OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Dark money has been linked to some Oklahoma campaigns, specifically the race for state auditor. The Oklahoma County GOP called for candidate Steve McQuillen to drop out of the race Friday.
The call for action came after the arrest of three members of Epic Charter Schools and their alleged contributions to McQuillen’s campaign.
Former state auditor, Gary Jones, said he filed a formal ethics complaint Friday morning. The complaint was not against McQuillen, but against the political consultants who reportedly received money from Epic Schools to use to fund McQuillen’s campaign. Those funds, more than $500,000 worth, were reportedly taxpayer dollars.
“What we’re seeing is not straw donors, but a straw candidate,” said Jones. “The Steve McQuillen that you see in all the ads does not exist. It’s simply a name on a ballot.”
Jones said McQuillen is not the candidate he claimed to be in the ads circulating throughout the state.
“He’s a creation of political consultants who for a year went around trolling, promising $500,000 worth of money to go into a campaign,” Jones said. “The money came from the state, went to Epic, went to Cheney and Harris, went to this PAC directly, and then from there so that the chain of custody is there.”
KFOR reached out to McQuillen for a statement on the call to have him drop out of the race, but our emails and calls were never returned.
Incumbent state auditor, Cindy Byrd, said the support for her opponent in Tuesday’s primary was sparked after she uncovered wrongdoing within the school’s administration.
“I’ve taken some big hits for standing up for taxpayers, for calling out the bad actors, for telling taxpayers exactly what has gone on with their money. And now those special interests that sought to cover it up are now coming after me.”
Thursday, co-founders David Cheney and Ben Harris along with the school’s chief financial officer, Josh Brock, were arrested by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and charged with seven felony counts, including embezzlement and racketeering.
“I want taxpayers to know the government is getting bigger on your dime. This is no time for someone who has absolutely no auditing experience to be put into this office, so that your state auditor’s office is shut down and shut up,” said Byrd.
Byrd said Thursday’s arrests are only the first step in this process but would not confirm if more indictments were coming, citing an ongoing investigation.