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Oklahoma Gov. Stitt's second inaugural committee raised nearly $1.5 million

Gov. Kevin Stitt raises his hand as he takes his second oath of office outside the Capitol during an inauguration ceremony on Jan. 9, 2023.
Whitney Bryen
Oklahoma Watch
Gov. Kevin Stitt raises his hand as he takes his second oath of office outside the Capitol during an inauguration ceremony on Jan. 9, 2023.

Individual donors, state lawmakers and businesses pitched in a combined $1.49 million to celebrate Gov. Kevin Stitt’s swearing-in to a second term, a decline from the $2.37 million raised for inaugural festivities in 2019.

With ticket costs ranging from $100 to $250, Stitt held inaugural balls in Enid, Tulsa and Oklahoma City in early January. Local country music artists performed in each of the three cities.

The Oklahoma Inaugural Committee filed its contributions and expenditures report with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on June 1, five weeks ahead of a July 8 deadline. The report shows the committee spent every dollar of the $1.49 million it received. Unlike political campaign donations, the state does not cap individual contributions to special function committees.

Top corporate donors to the inaugural events include Quiktrip, Devon Energy and the investment group that owns the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team (Professional Basketball Club LLC). Each contributed $50,000. More than three dozen companies donated $10,000 or more.

Agency heads and Republican lawmakers were among the hundreds of individual donors who chipped in more than $50. State Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready contributed $6,200. State Rep. Chad Caldwell, a Republican from Enid, donated $1,500.

Two lawmakers, Reps. Mike Dobrinski, R-Okeene, and John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, transferred funds from their candidate committee account to the inaugural fund. Both were re-elected without opposition.

Absent from the contributions list are donations from any of Oklahoma’s five largest tribal nations, which banded together last October to endorse Stitt’s Democratic opponent, Joy Hofmeister. The Cherokee Nation, of which Stitt is a citizen, contributed $75,000 to Stitt’s first inaugural campaign, while the Choctaw Nation pitched in $50,000.

The Inaugural Committee paid Eventures Inc., an Oklahoma City-based event planning company, more than $600,000 for equipment rental and event production. Other major expenses include rental fees for the BOK Center in Tulsa and catering costs to the Tulsa-based Ronda Roush Studios.

An Ethics Commission rule change implemented in 2014 gave campaign committees up to 180 days to report donors and spending information. The information was previously required to be listed in a quarterly fundraising report. Ahead of Stitt’s 2019 inauguration, one former lawmaker and a watchdog group that promotes government transparency raised concerns about the extended six-month reporting window.

Oklahoma Watch, at oklahomawatch.org, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that covers public-policy issues facing the state.

Keaton Ross is a Report for America corps member who covers prison conditions and criminal justice issues for Oklahoma Watch.
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