Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign chairman not a Tulsan, co-founded left-wing think-tank

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I was at the City Clerk's office looking at the R-1 forms for this year's city elections. Under Oklahoma's Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, if you raise or spend more than $500 on a city election campaign, you have to register the committee with the City Clerk on Form R-1. On the registration form, you specify the officers of the committee (chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer, staff director), a designated agent, and depositories where your committee's funds will be held -- name and location of the bank, type of account, and account number for each account.

I was curious about Chris Trail's reported "carryover" of contributions and expenses from a prior report. Trail reported having $1,000 at the beginning of the reporting period and spending $223.72 prior to the current report. I've never seen this before for a first time candidate. So I was looking for the R-1 to find out when the campaign committee was registered and if there were any earlier C-1s.

Trail's R-1 didn't show up, but I saw the R-1 for Bartlett for Mayor, Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign committee. He filed his R-1 on July 7. Here are the committee's officers:

Chairman: Albert Kelly, 1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa
Treasurer: Robert Sullivan Jr, 2118 E. 29th St., Tulsa
Staff Director: Somerlyn Cothran, 2313 N. Broadway, Ada

Cothran is also listed as designated agent. She is head of Cothran Development Strategies and sits on the board of something called Maverick PAC Oklahoma.

Albert Kelly is better known as "Kell" Kelly, president and CEO of Bristow-based Spirit Bank, which has been in the Kelly family since the 1930s. Kelly is registered to vote in Bristow. 1800 S. Baltimore is not a home address; it is the address of one of Spirit Bank's Tulsa facilities.

Kelly is one of the co-founders of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank created to support higher taxes and bigger government and to counter the influence of the free-market Oklahoma Center for Policy Analysis. (Here's a Tulsa World Janet Pearson column praising the Oklahoma Policy Institute. As is usual in the mainstream media, the small-government think tank institution, OCPA, is identified as right-wing, but the big-government group is described in neutral terms.)

Campaign committee chairman is an honorary position. It's a way of honoring a significant supporter, and it conveys a strong endorsement of the candidate by the person who accepts that position. For high-dollar campaigns, being chairman may also entail doing a significant amount of fundraising. It's strange that Bartlett Jr, a candidate for Mayor of Tulsa, either wouldn't choose someone from Tulsa or wouldn't be able to find someone from Tulsa willing to lend their name to the campaign as chairman.

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Roy said:

Things the local paper don't tell ya...

The plot thickens.

David S. Author Profile Page said:

Dewey's treasure Marit Smith also works for Spirit Bank. She left her airport job to work for Spirit then was appointed to the airport board a few years later by Taylor after Deweys board appointment to the same board.

Micah K said:

Your bashing of Dewey Bartlett almost makes me want to vote for him. (Admittedly, that's because I'm a Democrat.) But to accuse Kell Kelly of being "left-wing" in any way whatsoever is nonsense. With four exceptions, his political contributions were solely to Republicans and Republican causes.

Who were the exceptions? Barney Frank ($1000), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. It's pretty obvious why a major banker would contribute to the man who regulates his business. Brad Carson ($1,000), which he matched with $1000 to Coburn that year. Michael Bennett, D-CO ($500). Ben Nelson ($250), the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.

That amounts to $2,750 out of a total of $72,000 (3.8%) in contributions since 1996.


Micah, I was inclined to think of Kelly as a Republican. The only time I met him he was at the 2009 Republican convention, being squired around by former Speaker Todd Hiett (who is now a director of Kelly's Spirit Bank).

But it is an undisputed fact that Kell Kelly is a co-founder and board member of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. That is a fact. The Oklahoma Policy Institute is a "progressive" (i.e. left-wing) think tank that exists to advocate for bigger government and higher taxes. That is a fact.

What you've said about his donations only undermines your case. Why would a conservative give money to one of the most liberal members of the House, a member whose legislation undermined the soundness of the U. S. banking and mortgage industry? Shouldn't a conservative have been funding his opponent and encouraging others to do the same? And covering one's bases by giving to both Carson and Coburn isn't exactly the pinnacle of principle (much like endorsing a liberal Democratic mayor before you know who the Republican nominee will be).

Micah, I am sorry for my comment identifying you by your last name. It was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.

Micah K said:

I assume it was an oversight and that you didn't notice that I wasn't using my last name. Thank you for respecting your readers' wishes.

On the substantive point of your comment, it's quite true that the donations aren't exactly principled even if they are entirely routine in big business. One drawback of banning corporate contributions is that corporate influence in the political process becomes much less transparent. If "Spirit Bank" made those contributions rather than Kelly, there would at least be no question that it was a business investment and not an expression of political voice.

I don't dispute that Kelly is a member of the OPI board, although I was unaware that he was that as well as a founder until I visited the website. I don't think their work is as cut and dry as you describe it, and there are plenty of uncharitable ways of describing its counterpart OCPA as well. You're free to describe as you wish, though.

And just to be totally fair and above board, I'd be just as disturbed if a Democrat's campaign chair was a founder of OCPA.

Bob said:

Kell Kelly would do better to mind the affairs of his bank, Spirit Bank, Tulsa, vs. trying to aggrandize the City of Tulsa body politic.

His bank's FDIC Certificate # is: 4048.

His bank took $30 million in Federal TARP money.

Note to Novitiates:

Look at the trend in non-performing loans.....

Legend: Non-Performing Loans = BAD loans.

And, note his level of Derivatives.

His capital level is sub-par, too.....

Enjoy the rapture, Kell.......

See you in the FDIC DOL Heaven.......

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 3, 2009 11:11 AM.

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