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June 3, 2014

Chasing a ghost: Employee questions haunt District Attorney

NORMAN — Under the law, the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty. No one knows this better than District Attorney Greg Mashburn who is charged with prosecuting criminals in Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties.

What’s haunting Mashburn these days, is how to prove that campaign consultant Chad Alexander was not a ghost employee reaping the benefits of a victory bonus at the expense of taxpayers.

Mashburn’s campaign expense reports document that he paid a consulting firm out of Muskogee a remaining $10,000 owed when he won his campaign. Chad Alexander was the primary consultant on Mashburn’s campaign that year. When the campaign was over, Mashburn hired Alexander as a part-time public information officer.

Mashburn said his arrangement with A.H. Strategies was for $10,000 with an additional $10,000 win bonus for the primary and another $10,000 for winning the General election.

“You can clearly see that I paid them off with campaign funds,” Mashburn said, referring to the campaign contribution and expense report turned into the Oklahoma Ethics Commission by his campaign committee, Mashburn for DA 2006.

But the ethics commission does not require proof via canceled checks or receipts be submitted with those reports.

“They’re not required to keep records past three years, but campaigns are required to keep receipts and other records,” said Lee Slater, executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. “The treasurer of the committee or the deputy treasurer in the treasurer’s absence is required to keep all receipted bills, canceled checks, or other proofs of payment, with an explanation of each expenditure.”

Mashburn said he no longer has the canceled checks to prove he paid that final $10,000. The amount coincides closely with the amount of money Alexander was paid by Cleveland County during his tenure with Mashburn’s office.

Several high profile and highly respected state officials used A.H. Strategies and the associated Majority Designs as their campaign consultants, and Alexander worked on some of those campaigns in previous election years.

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