Oklahoma County District 2 Commissioner Brent Rinehart and his 2004 campaign manager, former Representative Tim Pope, were hit with felony charges this afternoon: conspiracy against the state, knowingly accepting a contribution to a political candidate through an intermediary or conduit (three charges), money-laundering (two charges) and perjury (six charges).
The conspiracy charge involves a promotional piece called the T-Bone Tribune (not to be confused with this T-Bone Tribune), which was misattributed in Ethics Commission reports to a PAC which also served as the “intermediary or conduit.” The perjury charges involve underreporting of campaign contributions. (Complete court document in PDF format here; lesser charges were filed against certain of Rinehart’s donors.)
The Oklahoman had been on this story for a while:
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation began looking into Rinehart’s finances after a February 2006 investigation by The Oklahoman, which found several donors who had given the maximum allowed $5,000 to Rinehart’s 2004 commissioner campaign also gave money to a political action committee run by Pope.
Pope said he told Methvin he planned to use the money to pay for a mailing criticizing Rinehart’s opponent. The cost of the mailing was listed on Rinehart’s campaign finance reports as an in-kind donation from The Oklahoma Republican Assembly, run by Pope.
And Pope was in hot water earlier this year, having been fined $4500 for his noxious automated phone calls trying to undermine District 1 Commissioner Jim Roth, who is, shall we say, not Brent Rinehart’s best friend.
Pope, at least, used to have something resembling a level head. Rinehart’s, I suspect, has always been flat.
Update, 6 April: Rinehart and Pope turned themselves in this morning: bail for each was set at $24,000. They are scheduled to appear before Judge Carol Ann Hubbard on the 17th of May.