Big bucks being spent on Vision2 campaigns

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/08/2012 5:50 pm Published: 10/08/2012 5:17 pm

The campaigns for and against Vision2 are starting to crank up. At stake is a $750 million extension to the Vision 2025 bond package.

But the more both campaigns push their messages, the more some Tulsans are questioning who is behind the campaigns and who is funding them.

Citizens for Tulsa County, Inc. is the group behind the Vision2 campaign. It is funded by donations from citizens and businesses. All of its donations must be reported to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, but there is no limit to how much these businesses, or organizations like the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, can donate.

The donations pay for campaign materials like yard signs, buttons, campaign managers, and PR firm Schnake Turnbo Frank. Roughly $25,000 in donations has paid for radio and television commercials so far.

Office space near 51st St. and Memorial was donated "in kind" as a campaign headquarters.

Citizens for Tulsa County could not tell FOX23 News how much it has collected in donations overall so far, because representatives said they are still calculating dollar amounts for "in kind" donations.

"Any dollars that you see for this campaign are all privately raised," Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said. "So, there will be no tax dollars spent for the campaign. We can't do that."

George McFarlin opposes Vision2, and said Keith's comments were not entirely true.

"Indirectly [taxpayers] are [funding the Vision2 campaign]," McFarlin said.

"If money goes in one pocket at the chamber of commerce, is it possible it's coming out another pocket?"

After all, McFarlin said, the chamber does receive funding from the City of Tulsa.
The opposition group, Citizens for a Better Vision, LLC, held a news conference Monday to discuss funding and other concerns.

So far, it has collected a little more than $1,300 in donations, and spent around $1,100 making yard signs and buttons, and running advertisements on Facebook.

"We can't compete with the funding," Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, an organizing member of Citizens for a Better Vision, LLC, said. "And so, we'll be a grassroots movement, which will rely on individual circles of influence that we reach out through social media."

Vuillemont-Smith said even though both groups are funded by donations, it will be important to look at who is donating in support of Vision2 when Citizens for Tulsa County releases its donations and expense report on October 23.

"It will be people that will benefit from the projects," Vuillemont-Smith said.

Even though Citizens for a Better Vision, LLC is set up as a for-profit business, Vuillemont-Smith said after the election is over, any donation money remaining in the bank account will be donated to a local charity.

Click here for more information on Vision2 from Citizens of Tulsa County, Inc.

Click here for more information on opposition to Vision2 from Citizens for a Better Vision.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

bowlerdave - 10/9/2012 8:40 AM
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Why waste money on this? We all understand NO will be voted. So move on.
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