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Individual Donors to Hofmeister’s 2018 Campaign Decline to Fund Legal Defense

May 1, 2017 - 3:18pm CDT

By Jay Chilton, CIJ

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has been charged with five felony counts of conspiracy, collusion, and related campaign crimes allegedly committed during her 2014 run for office.

In response to the expected cost associated with her defense, Hofmeister has formed a special function committee to help cover those expenses.

CIJ reported on March 30 that, while the Oklahoma Education Association and the Oklahoma State School Boards Association have both said they will not donate to the defense fund, the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, Stand for Children, and American Fidelity declined to comment on the matter.

The monetary contributions report by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission for the 2016 third quarter activity related to Hofmeister’s 2018 reelection campaign lists 45 individuals who donated more than $50 between July 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2016. Those donations, totaling $17,330, were made nearly two years after news of a criminal investigation into Hofmeister’s alleged corruption was reported by Clifton Adcock for Oklahoma Watch on July 23, 2014, again in an article by Nolan Clay for The Oklahoman on Aug. 21, 2014, and a report by News9 on Aug. 22, 2014.

CIJ contacted many of these individual donors to ask if they knew of the possibility that Hofmeister would be indicted, and if they planned to financially support the Joy Hofmeister Legal Defense Fund.

Dr. Stephoni Case, a professor at the Southern Nazarene University School of Education, donated $500 to Hofmeister’s 2018 campaign on Aug. 26, 2016. She said she did not know of the possibility that Hofmeister would be indicted when she donated to her campaign and “will not be donating,” to the legal defense fund.

Rodney Crabtree, superintendent of Byng Public Schools, is one of 12 superintendents who donated to Hofmeister’s campaign, by far the most-represented demographic. He contributed $100 to the Hofmeister 2018 campaign. He was noncommittal, saying that he had not considered donating to the legal defense fund and that he had not been asked.

Former longtime state Superintendent Sandy Garrett said that she considered the charges against Hofmeister to be “very serious” and that she has had no contact with Hofmeister since she sent a check for $500 to a rally for the campaign that she did not attend personally. Though she endorsed Hofmeister for the 2014 campaign, Garrett said she did not know of the impending indictment in early September 2016 when she made the contribution.

She was emphatic in saying she would not contribute to Hofmeister’s legal defense fund and that she will not give any future support to Hofmeister’s 2018 run for state Superintendent.

Lori McGinnis Madland is the executive director of the Street School in Tulsa. She gave $100 to Hofmeister’s 2018 campaign on Aug. 22, 2016. When asked if she knew of Hofmeister’s mounting legal troubles, she said, “I can’t remember when I found out about all of that.

“I haven’t considered (donating to the legal defense fund),” she said. “I don’t know. I tend to look at the big picture.”

El Reno Public Schools superintendent Craig McVay separated the issue between Hofmeister’s candidacy and legal defense. “I am very supportive of Joy Hofmeister as state Superintendent, but I will absolutely not support her legal defense fund,” he said. “Let me be clear. I hope she’s innocent, and if she is, I am willing to support her campaign. But I will not support her legal defense fund. I think that is something she needs to come up with by herself.”

As CIJ reported earlier today, four individuals have donated to Hofmeister’s defense fund.