Three Months Out- Supporters of Right to Farm Have a Half Million Dollar War Chest- Will That Be Enough?Thu, 04 Aug 2016 06:42:22 CDT
There are three Political Action Committees that have filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission with announced intentions to support or oppose State Question 777, Right to Farm. Oklahoma Farmers Care SQ777 is the entity that was created almost a year ago to support the State Question as it appears on the November General Election ballot, and The Oklahoma Stewardship Council and Oklahoma Food Farm and Family are two PACs set up to oppose the State Question.
The Oklahoma Farmers Care group has now filed four quarterly reports and those reports show that a total of $816,540 has been raised in cash and in kind to date in favor of the State Question. A little over $200,000 has been spent to date, with the campaign spending money for bumper stickers, roadsign signs, website and social media to this point. No money has been spent for radio, TV or Billboards to date. The latest report shows a total of $586,726 is in the bank, which supporters have ready to use to respond to the expected media blitz to come by opponents of Right to Farm between now and election day.
The contributions have been spread almost equally over the four reporting periods, with total contributions showing $165,099 being given in the third quarter of 2015, $245,485 given in the fourth quarter of 2015, $219,827 given in the first quarter of 2016 and $186,129 given in the second quarter of 2016. A significant amount of the money has been given by individuals- approximately $95,000 has been contributed by mainly people identifying themselves as farmers and/or ranchers. The grassroots extends to County Farm Bureau groups, with at least ten County Farm Bureaus giving $10,000 or more on behalf of the members of their county. Counting contributions of less than $50, over 200 individual farmers and ranchers have invested in the campaign to date.
Of the groups, organizations and companies that have made contributions- the Oklahoma Pork Council is single largest listed entity, with Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance and a collection of Farm Credit Associations also giving susbtantial amounts.
Click here for the part of the Ethics Commission report where you can find the actual reports for Oklahoma Farmers Care.
Looking at the groups that oppose State Question 777, the Oklahoma Food, Farm and Family group appears to be tied closely to the Oklahoma Municpal League and in the single report they have filed, show a contribution from Oklahoma Rising, Inc that totals $177,530. Most of that money has been spent- apparently in organizing in anticipation of having more money flow in this quarter to spend in media buys telling Oklahomans to vote no. This group has reported a Billboard expendicture to date of $26,650 for their "NO" message. The only other contribution that this group received besides the one already mentioned comes from Kirkpatrick Bank for $1,500. No individuals have given them money.
As for the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, they have collected in cash and in kind total contributions of $90,748 to date. Of the 47 individuals listed in the reports filed with the Ethics Commission, there are no farmers or ranchers or anyone directly involved in the agricultural community that have given money. The largest hunk of money and in kind gifts have come from HSUS- $40,568 coming from the organization based in Washington, DC. The largest single individual donor to the Stewardship Council is Christian Keesee of Oklahoma City. Keesee is the chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank and Kirkpatrick Oil & Gas Company. Mr. Keesee also leads two philanthropic organizations as chairman of the Kirkpatrick Foundation and president of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, both based in Oklahoma City. He also is a board member of the Humane Society of the US. Counting his personal contribution and the in kind gifts of the companies he is Chairman of- over $25,000 has been provided to campaign against State Question 777.
It is widely expected that the Humane Society will send a large amount of money this quarter to the Stewardship Council to allow them to buy media ahead of the November general election. The Director of the Council, former attorney general Drew Edmonson, told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director when they kicked off the campaign last fall that he would anticipate a million dollars or more might be spent on each side of the debate.
In addition to the three entities that have filed reports with the Ethics Commission, several proponents of State Question 777 question the influence of Keesee as Chairman of the Foundation Board on the efforts being made by the Kirkpatrick Foundation in their educational campaign on Right to Farm. The Kirkpatrick Foundation has been aggressive in a campaign they have tagged "Know Before You Vote." According to the Kirkpatrick Foundation website, "Our goal is to educate Oklahomans about what would happen if SQ 777 passes this fall." Click here for their lead in page that has several links they have created on State Question 777.
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