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Oklahoma State Superintendent pleads not guilty to campaign finance violations, conspiracy

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OKLAHOMA - The Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools was booked into jail Friday morning.

Joy Hofmeister and four powerful political operatives were charged for campaign finance violations and conspiracy.

Prosecutors said Hofmeister and her team formed a dark money group to secretly accept big donations from corporations all in an effort to run a big negative campaign in 2014 against then-superintendent Janet Barresi.

Joy Hofmeister

Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent

Court documents detail a two-year investigation involving Hofmeister’s campaign bid for state superintendent.

The affidavit names a long list of big campaign consultants and activists in the republican party.

Along with Hofmeister, prosecutors charged Stephanie Dawn Milligan, Steven Crawford, Lela Odom and Fount Holland with four counts for accepting contributions in excess of the maximum amount, accepting corporate contributions and two counts of conspiracy.

Milligan is currently a consultant for Donald Trump's campaign.

Right now, Holland is consulting on dozens of state republican races.

Prosecutors said Hofmeister and the four others created a "dark money" group to funnel money from corporations to use in a smear campaign against Barresi.

They reportedly raised $300,000.

Under Oklahoma law, candidates are not allowed to communicate with these "dark money groups," and prosecutors said Hofmeister was well aware of what the group was doing.

Hofmeister was emotional responding to the allegations.

“At the onset of my campaign I made a promise to myself and my supporters that as a candidate and a 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,” Hofmeister said.

“The Oklahoma Republican Party supports Supt. of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. We know her to be of high moral character and support her as she fights these charges,” said OKGOP Chairwoman Pam Pollard.

Hofmeister was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail Friday morning.

Her bond is set at $32,000.

She entered a plea of not guilty during her arraignment.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13, 2016.

Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent

Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent

Former Executive Director, Lela Odom is also charged in connection to these allegations. The Oklahoma Education Association released this statement on Friday.

“In its 127 year history, the Oklahoma Education Association has advocated ethically and honorably for Oklahoma public schools, students, and education professionals.  We are disappointed to see that charges have been filed against former OEA Executive Director Lela Odom, but we firmly believe that when this matter is resolved, she will be cleared of any wrongdoing.  In the meantime, OEA will continue our work to advance public education for the benefit of all Oklahoma students.”

Former State Superintendent Janet Baressi issued the following statement on the charges.

“I will let the charge speak for itself.  I appreciate the diligence and professionalism demonstrated by District Attorney Prater and his staff.”

Raw surveillance video inside Oklahoma Jail as Hofmeister arrives and exits for booking.