Big gap between pro-, anti-Vision2 campaign contributions

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/30/2012 6:33 pm Published: 10/30/2012 5:58 pm

Tuesday marked one week until Tulsa County Voters head to the polls to vote not only in the presidential election, but also on Vision2. Vision2 is a $750 million extension to the Vision2025 bond package.

Campaigns both for and against Vision2 are working overtime to sway voters, but there's a significant gap in the amount of campaign contributions each side has collected.

According to records submitted to the Oklahoma Election Commission, the Vision2 campaign, orchestrated by Citizens for Tulsa County, has collected close to $600,000 in contributions. The opposition campaign, led by a group called Citizens for a Better Vision, has collected less than $4,000 in contributions.

The question is why is there such a significant difference, and will the big fundraising pay off for the Vision2 campaign.

Most of the Vision2 funds came from big donations from major companies across Tulsa. Some of the highlights include $35,000 from Bank of Oklahoma, $25,000 from Manhattan Construction Co., $37,500 from American Airlines, $40,000 from the Transport Workers Union, and $100,000 from Tulsa's Future.

Michael Bates, a local blogger and member of Citizens for a Better Vision, said the campaign funds really come down to how much everyone stands to gain from Vision2.

"They may see the opportunity if this passes to gain a large amount of business, perhaps millions of dollars worth of business," Bates said.

"If it fails we'll have a little more money in our pockets, but not by much. So, it's not really in our interest to spend thousands of dollars opposing it."

Vision2 co-chair Don Walker said the measures would benefit everyone in Tulsa County, not just the companies that donate. That, he said, is their real motivation for donating.

"Vision2 is about creating more jobs," Walker said. "It's about retaining jobs. It's about developing our community. These companies want that for their own employees."

Walker admits every company on the list potentially could benefit financially from the passage of Vision2, but said that doesn't mean companies like American Airlines are trying to buy votes when they donate to the campaign.

"They're part of our community. They have been a part of our community for 70 years. If American wouldn't support this, I would be very disappointed."

Businesses like Bank of Oklahoma and Manhattan Construction Co. could make a lot of money off Vision2 projects, but the county will have to put all contracts for Vision2 projects out to bid. The county can't just award contracts to companies that donated the most.

Still, Bates said there's a clear difference between the two campaigns. The opposition, he said, is made up mostly of individuals digging into their own pockets, and using social media to spread the word.

"It's all grassroots," he said. "It's all individuals digging into their own savings, their own fun money to do something they think is important for the community."

But Bates said if you read between the lines, the Vision2 campaign money tells a clear story.

"The lack of small donations to the vote yes campaign shows that it's not a grassroots effort. It's really sort of an elite, insider effort to pass this thing."

Tulsa County will have to wait until next Tuesday to find out if all the donations paid off.

Until then, the opposition plans to spend its remaining $882 printing more campaign buttons and yard signs. While the Vision2 campaign hasn't released how much money it has remaining, it plans to spend those remaining funds on billboards across the county, as well as commercial air time on the radio and tv.

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

aleman - 10/31/2012 4:44 AM
0 Votes
The old liberal elite dinosaurs and their beloved downtown

foxhound - 10/30/2012 7:25 PM
0 Votes
To true let THE Kaiser fund it.

foxhound - 10/30/2012 7:24 PM
0 Votes
Kaiser wants VII let him pay for it.

ppiklapp - 10/30/2012 7:02 PM
0 Votes
Another sign of the rich trying to influence the poor into paying the tab. Funny how the majority of Tulsa County residents hate Vision 2 and its forefather Vision 2025. The vast majority want less taxes, not increased high taxes. Vision 2 is an attempt to get what the voters refused to fund the first 5 times they hit the ballot.
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