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Democrats urged to ask redistricting dark money group to disclose donors, military strategy

OKLAHOMA CITY – Republican leaders urged Democrat legislators to join them in calling for the dark money group that drew the Democrats’ proposed congressional redistricting map and drafted its redistricting commission proposal to disclose its donors and explain why the map abandons a successful strategy to protect key Oklahoma military installations. 

Democrat legislators filed last-minute legislation containing a proposed congressional redistricting map drawn by People Not Politicians, a nonprofit advocacy organization that has not publicly disclosed its donors or Internal Revenue Service Form 990. Democrat legislators also filed a measure repeating a redistricting commission proposal by People Not Politicians in Initiative Petition 430 which would result in Oklahoma having more than 48 senators and which was unsuccessful at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

According to nonprofit tracking service GuideStar, People Not Politicians has more than $335,000 in gross receipts since its formation.

“We are proud the Oklahoma map is more compact overall, protects military bases and incorporates widespread public input that the Democrat map ignores,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “It’s disappointing Democrats have adopted redistricting plans by a secretive dark money group that has refused to disclose its donors so Oklahomans can know whether national Democrat partisans are the true funders of the group’s advocacy. Since the head of People Not Politicians also runs Freedom of Information Oklahoma, we are calling on legislative Democrats to join Republicans in urging People Not Politicians to provide the same kind of transparency FOI Oklahoma advocates for by disclosing all its donors.”

The map People Not Politicians proposed and Democrats filed takes military communities out of Congressional District 4, while the Oklahoma map the state’s redistricting process produced continues to keep those communities in the district due to overwhelming public comment in support of the approach, which has been successful in Oklahoma for 40 years.

“The Legislature’s redistricting process was the most open and transparent in history,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “We asked for and received input from Oklahomans; and those sentiments helped guide the work of our redistricting committees. Our commitment to transparency and our inclusion of public input from all parts of the state, yielded good maps for both legislative and congressional boundaries. I am proud of the work of the Legislature and think it reflects well on the wishes of Oklahomans.”

Treat added: “Democrats have copied and pasted a congressional map by a secretive group, likely funded by dark money, and led by a partisan political mercenary who ironically leads a pro-transparency media advocacy group. Regardless of what they are hiding, they have the same goal as Nancy Pelosi and former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder: electing liberals to office. And with the redistricting commission, they also are copying the effort of Pelosi and Holder to push a federal takeover of state elections. Don’t believe the rhetoric about ‘fair maps.’ Democrats didn’t produce a fair map. They have concocted a map solely to get liberals elected in Oklahoma.”

Legislative redistricting leaders said the People Not Politicians map proposed by Democrats puts military investments at Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill in jeopardy.

“The Oklahoma map we have proposed protects military bases much better than the Democrat map,” said House Redistricting Chairman Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond. “The anti-military approach is the biggest of many shortcomings in the Democrat map, so I am very curious to hear how Democrats plan to protect Oklahoma’s military investments.”

The People Not Politicians map proposed by Democrats excludes communities surrounding Tinker Air Force Base that have been included in the same congressional district as Tinker and Fort Sill for the past 40 years. The strategy has been proven to increase the effectiveness of congressional efforts to secure investments for the bases while protecting them from base closure processes.

“I have no idea why Democrats and a dark money group want to ignore a successful model that has supported these crucial bases for 40 years. Protecting the 130,000 jobs and $9.6 billion gross domestic product Oklahoma military bases produce should be a crucial priority, but it looks like an afterthought to Democrats,” said Senate Select Committee on Redistricting Chairman Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle.

Legislation containing the differing approaches to congressional maps is eligible to be heard in legislative redistricting committees Tuesday.