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Dark money reveal feared in PR legal tiff

An attorney says identities of "dark money" donors who funnel money into Oklahoma City Council elections could be revealed unless a judge blocks document requests in a legal spat between two public relations executives and their firms. 

Seth Day of Hall, Estill makes the assertion in a dispute between Jones PR and its former senior vice president, Joshua Harlow, in papers filed in Oklahoma County District Court.

Attorneys for Jones PR have sought documents from entities and individuals including Catalyst Oklahoma, a contributor of independent expenditures in city council races.

 In 2017, Catalyst spent $45,000 in a successful bid to elect Todd Stone to the Ward 4 council seat. 

Stone had finished second in the primary but won the runoff with help, in part, from Catalyst's spending on digital ads, canvassing and phone calls, all reported in the final week of the campaign.

Stone, a homebuilder and developer, has said he will seek re-election in 2021. He represents southeast Oklahoma City.

In court papers, Day says one of the "main benefits" of dark money groups, known under the law as social welfare organizations, is allowing contributors to remain anonymous.

The lawsuit was filed in September. The Frontier first reported on the litigation this month.

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William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›