Oklahoma holding millions in Romney campaign funds
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Saturday, October 20, 2012
10/20/12 at 7:22 AM
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Maybe Oklahoma isn't so much a backwater in this year's presidential campaign as it is a political version of the Cayman Islands.
A campaign finance law quirk that both major parties exploit is allowing Republican Mitt Romney's campaign to park millions of dollars in a fund controlled by the Oklahoma GOP.
The completely legal technique allows presidential campaigns to get around contribution limits by channeling money through state parties. The state parties hold the money until it is needed, then transfer it for use in so-called swing states.
This is done through what are called joint fundraising committees. The joint fundraising committees allow contributors to write one check for multiple committees. In this case, a donor can give up to $75,800 to Romney Victory Inc.
That money is then split among Romney for President (up to $5,000), the Republican National Committee (up to $30,800), and the Oklahoma, Vermont, Idaho and Massachusetts state parties (up to $10,000 each).
The Oklahoma party's cut of Romney Victory has caused its federal campaign fund - called the Oklahoma Leadership Council - to grow from less than $200,000 to $6.4 million at the end of August. Some of that total was raised by the state party for its own operations, but the large majority is from Romney Victory.
Distributions from joint fundraising committees count against individual limits, so a donor who has already given the Romney campaign the maximum $5,000 can't also give directly to Romney through the committee.
But the same donor can give $40,000 - $10,000 to each of the four state parties - to be spent at the Romney campaign's direction.
This is because the four state parties have agreed to hold their shares of the joint committee proceeds and then transfer them as needed by the Romney campaign.
In effect, the arrangement allows large donors to increase their maximum contributions to Romney ninefold.
No official reason has been given for why the Oklahoma, Idaho, Vermont and Massachusetts Republican parties were chosen to act as virtual off-shore accounts, but when asked if it had to do with the Romney campaign's level of trust in those states' party officers, Oklahoma GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell replied, "I would say that's accurate."
President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party also have a joint fundraising committee: There are two such committees, but neither involves Oklahoma. Instead of choosing states not expected to have much activity this election cycle, Obama's campaign went with 10 swing states - Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Pinnell said joint fundraising committees are not a way of circumventing contribution limits.
"When there is a question, it's usually about the super PACs," he said. "With those, the donors aren't disclosed. With joint fundraising committees, everything is disclosed."
Original Print Headline: State GOP is entrusted with millions for Romney
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, applauds as he is introduced to supporters by his vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., during the Romney Ryan Victory Rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP Photo