Stitt Campaign Pauses Ad Amid Questions Over Alleged Ethics Violations
KOKH-News 25 - June 8, 2022 5:57 am
Governor Kevin Stitt
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KOKH) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R)’s campaign is pausing the use of an advertisement after critics started calling its legality into question.
Former general counsel for the Oklahoma GOP Rex Duncan argues it violates ethics commission rules. However, Oklahoma GOP Chairman Antony J. Ferate and the governor’s campaign team both say that the ad is in compliance.
The ad features Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor (R). Ethics policies stipulate that campaigns cannot run ads for another candidate within 30 days of a primary election or primary runoff. Primaries will take place on Jun. 28.
“I don’t have an opinion on that because it’s not an area that I’ve looked at, and it’s not a question I’ve looked at,” responded O’Connor when asked about his view on the matter.
Duncan tweeted about the ad, asserting its illegality. Since then, the Oklahoma GOP has fired him.
Ferate is firing back, arguing Duncan’s analysis is flawed.
He posted on Facebook that the ad fails to qualify as a contribution or electioneering communication. He instead argues the ad simply highlights O’Connor as one of Stitt’s accomplishments, since the governor appointed him as the attorney general.
“I’m certain that the… governor is not going to step outside of the law or ethics,” shared O’Connor on Tuesday.
He also said that he is “honored that he considers some of the things that… I’ve accomplished part of his accomplishments as well.”
The attorney general also shared that his campaign and the governor’s did not coordinate on the ad. According to O’Connor, “His campaign and my campaign are separate. We didn’t really have anything to do with that ad.”
The Stitt campaign released two statements in response to an inquiry about the ad. According to the campaign, “The Stitt for Governor campaign is running various TV commercials emphasizing his accomplishments, to include cutting taxes for all Oklahomans, pay raises for every teacher, and selecting John O’Connor, a proven conservative, to fill the role as Attorney General and lead in the Oklahoma Turnaround efforts.”
Campaign spokeswoman Donelle Harder further shared that, “We received legal counsel in advance and are confident that it is an acceptable campaign ad focused on the Governor’s accomplishments and fulfilled campaign promises. In light of a recent inquiry, we are pausing this particular ad.”
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has not yet responded to a request for comment on the questions surrounding the campaign advertisement.