OKLAHOMA CITY - State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has been charged with campaign fundraising violations and conspiracy.
Hofmeister is accused of illegally colluded with a "dark money" group to the win the 2014 election.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on Thursday announced the charges against Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. Two political consultants, a union leader and the former head of a schools group were also charged.
Hofmeister said she would fight the allegations and continue working.
"At the onset of my campaign. I made a commitment to myself and my supporters that as a candidate and public servant I would reflect certain values including transparency, trustworthiness and, above all, integrity. I am confident that my actions throughout my campaign more than two years ago were consistent with these values and in compliance with the law.”
The five are accused of circumventing state campaign finance laws by conspiring to funnel corporate contributions into a negative campaign against Hofmeister's Republican opponent, Janet Barresi. It is illegal in Oklahoma for a candidate to coordinate such expenditures.
Hofmeister is accused of violating the following: Limits on contributions to candidates, contributions by corporation prohibited, two counts of conspiracy to commit felony to violation and violation of the computer crimes act.
In addition to Hofmeister, four other people are included in the accusations: Stephanie Milligan, Steven Crawford, Lela Odom and Robert Holland. The additional people are accused of violating the following: Two counts of conspiracy to commit felony to violate and violation of computer crimes act.
The entire investigation started after a local political consultant was arrested for having cocaine. His computers were seized during a search warrant and an email from Hofmeister to now retired Jenks Supt. Kirby Lehman showed that Hofmeister, Owens and the others were aligned in the alleged conspiracy.
An affidavit revealed more details about the allegations, claiming that Hofmeister was aware of the misconduct.
The document claims the four used the organization Oklahomans for Public School Excellence [OPSE] to exceed campaign donation limits and accept corporate donations in violation of Oklahoma law.
Groups donated money to the organization, which was allegedly primarily used for political purposes.
OPSE was violating IRS law mandating that any organization defined as a social welfare organization not participate in political activities as the primary activities.
The affidavit alleges that the funds were used to finance a negative campaign and focus on Hofmeister’s opponent Janet Barresi.
Barresi’s campaign accused Hofmeister of breaking the law in 2014 saying that her group sent emails to school district administrators on their work accounts.
Hofmeister became just the second Republican to lead the state's 700,000-student public school system.
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