Congressman Tom Cole

Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole is shown.

NORMAN — New quarterly reports out this week show that Rep. Tom Cole lost some of his biggest donors after objecting to the Electoral College certification in January.

As previously reported, Cole, R.Okla., was set to lose several of his larger donors due to his decision to object to President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

The Transcript compared Cole’s quarterly reports from the past three Aprils directly following an election year (2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019) and found that this year, he raised significantly less money than in previous years, and lost some of his marquee donors.

A spokesperson for Cole did not respond to The Transcript’s request for comment.

Cole, who is up for reelection in 2022, raised $41,678 in the first quarter of 2021; in comparison, the congressman raised $146,964 in the first quarter of 2019. Some of Cole’s biggest donors in that 2019 quarter are absent from this year’s filing.

In the first quarter of 2019, Blue Cross/Blue Shield PAC and Boeing PAC — both PACs that announced they would halt or review funding for those who objected to Biden’s win — contributed $1,000 to Cole’s committee. This year, neither donated at all.

Other PACs that have since halted contributions gave more money to Cole in 2019. Employees of Northrop Grumman PAC and Ernst & Young PAC each contributed $2,500 to Cole in 2019; in 2021, they didn’t contribute anything.

In total, more than 25 PACs that supported Cole in the first quarter of 2019 did not donate to him at all in the first quarter of 2021.

The pattern continues over the years prior as well. In the first quarter of 2017, Cole received a total of $98,803 in contributions; in the first quarter of 2015 he received $180,005 and in the first quarter of 2013 he received $66,570.

In all of those years, most of Cole’s donations came from PACs instead of individual contributions. But in the first quarter of 2021, Cole received money from only two PACs, and his individual contributions were also minimal.

According to the filings, not a single person within Cole’s district donated money to him in the first quarter of this year. In fact, only two contributions came from those with addresses listed in the state of Oklahoma: One from an individual from Rep. Stephanie Bice’s district, and the other from the Chickasaw Nation, which Cole is a citizen of.

The rest of his contributions listed in the filings came from out of state individuals, campaign committees or interest earned off of money in the bank, according to the filings.

Despite a low fundraising period, Cole still has more than $1.1 million currently on hand, more than anyone else in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation.

Tyler Johnson, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma who teaches classes in American political behavior, said while it’s only the first quarter and he is hesitant to make a broad judgment, he wonders if Cole will be one of the GOP politicians caught in the middle of the current fight for the party.

“You’ve got the nine or 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, and a good number of those individuals did pretty well in fundraising,” Johnson said.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, raised over $1.1 million in the first quarter.

“Then you’ve got a handful of Republicans who were ones that supported not counting the electoral votes, who have big media and big social media presences … there are some signs there that those people did really well in fundraising, [mostly] through individual contributions,” he said.

During the first quarter this year, embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fl. raised over $1.8 million. Gaetz was an outspoken supporter of Trump, and supported the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

“You have a lot of Republicans who objected to counting the electoral votes, but are just sort of rank-and-file Republicans that don’t have big media presences, aren’t massive on social media, and I wonder if they’re going to be kind of caught in the middle in terms of having all the money being sucked up by the people who are the big voices on some of those issues,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the ongoing fundraising battle reminds him of an old saying in Congressional literature that distinguishes between the “show horses” and the “workhorses” of Congress.

“It seems like the ‘show horses’ within the Republican Party over the first few months are the ones who are attracting those fundraising dollars, and the people who are sort of behind the scenes — who are hard workers but not making as big of noise about some of the big issues defining the party [right now] — they might be the ones who are lagging behind at this point,” he said.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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Staff Writer

Reese Gorman covers elections, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Norman Transcript. He started as an intern in May of 2020 and transitioned into his current position as a staff writer in August of 2020.