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June 22, 2014

Documents link group, ‘dark money’

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NORMAN —

But the Shannon campaign and some of the group’s members have close connections. At least one person involved in forming Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, Xavier Neira, was also a member of Shannon’s exploratory steering committee for the Senate race and was listed among “hosts and sponsors” of a Shannon campaign fundraiser in Oklahoma City in March. Neira also is chair and president of a second independent political group with ties to an Oklahoma City consulting firm, A.H. Strategies, that runs Shannon’s campaign.  

Until recently, four of the five people who helped run this second group, Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future, also helped lead Oklahomans for a Conservative Future. The executive director of both groups was political consultant and lobbyist Chad Alexander, a former partner with A.H. Strategies and early donor to Shannon’s Senate campaign.

A.H. Strategies is a powerhouse in state politics and has several affiliated companies. Some are run by the company’s partners and provide a range of campaign services. A.H. Strategies and its affiliates have served clients at local, state and national levels of politics and have received advertising awards for their work.

In 2012, connections were strong between some of those leading A.H. Strategies, consultant for several candidates in state and federal races, and those leading the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future, which did polling or sent mailers in support of at least five of those candidates, Ethics Commission records show. No allegations were made about whether these ties could lead to coordination between the nonprofit and candidates, although one candidate not represented by A.H. Strategies sued both the consultant and the coalition alleging falsehoods in political ads.

The roles of A.H. Strategies and the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future developed quickly in 2012.

On Jan. 20, 2012, a group of Oklahoma City-area men established the nonprofit Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future. Incorporation records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office show the company’s board members and founders included Neira, director of business services of a Oklahoma City construction company.

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