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Game changer? Switzer endorses Askins for governor; tax credits an issue?

By   /   July 22, 2010  /   4 Comments

By ANDREW W. GRIFFIN

Oklahoma Watchdog, editor

Posted: July 22, 2010

andrew@oklahomawatchdog.org

OKLAHOMA CITY — In what one local radio host is calling a “game changer,” the politically-connected former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer said on Reid Mullins’ morning show on KTOK that he was endorsing Lt. Gov. Jari Askins for the top post in Tuesday’s primary.

A radio ad featuring Switzer endorsing Askins was posted at her campaign website www.jariaskins.com.

Polls have been showing Attorney General Drew Edmondson as the top choice among Democrats, but Askins is coming up fast. As Mike McCarville noted at the McCarville Report Online, “Switzer’s endorsement is considered important by candidates , and apparently by voters. His support of underdog Brad Henry in the 2002 governor’s race is credited by many with helping Henry win the election in an upset over favored Republican Steve Largent” the former All-American at the University of Tulsa and a former wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.

Sid Hudson, campaign manager for the Askins campaign, said he has known the lieutenant governor for many years, considers her a good friend and believes she would be a great governor. He also said his boss is a good friend of Switzer’s and knew him from his days coaching the Sooners.

“I’d put her sports knowledge up against any governor,” Hudson said. “She’s a real sports fan.”

Hudson said Askins “was very pleased and pleasantly surprised” by Switzer’s endorsement.

“He’s an iconic figure in Oklahoma. We’re proud to have someone with a public profile … hopefully it’s something to put us across the finish line.”

Currently, Hudson said, polls show Askins and Edmondson neck-and-neck or “within the margin of error.” The primary for Democrats and Republicans is next Tuesday.

Added Hudson, “Her fundamental core values lead her and she’s unimpressed with herself and her position. She has the chance to be a hell of a governor. She’s very smart and really considers issues and makes judgements to do what’s best for Oklahoma.”

But some have wondered if there isn’t more to the Switzer endorsement.

A trusted source told Oklahoma Watchdog this morning that Switzer decided to endorse Askins over Edmondson over the controversial issue of the state’s tax credit program, something we have reported on here before. It appears from the information developed in previous online reports that Switzer preferred Askins’ approach to the tax credit issue, compared to that of Edmondson, who has spent many years as a prosecutor.

Investigative researcher and writer Nick Baker who goes by the handle “The Prowling Owl” and runs prowlingowl.com wrote a story in 2009 headlined “Tax credit fraud details found in Foxborough prospectus.” Involved in Foxborough, reported Baker, was Foxborough board member Barry Switzer, a figure, the researcher believes is involved in a program “to steal public funds, through tax credit scams.” This prospectus, Baker notes, is basically saying: “Our goal is tax credits,  we don’t want companies with employees. We only want companies that don’t need money and have the free and clear assets to borrow the money to give us on paper so we can give it back, call it an investment and get tax credits.”

In another post, headlined “OTC (Oklahoma Tax Commission) gives Switzer’s and partner’s $48 million in tax credits for investing $5 million,” Baker writes: “The fraud is executed in the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which comes under the supervision of the state treasurer. Barry Switzer just had a fundraiser for Rep. Ken Miller, running for state treasurer. Miller is currently chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, one of the most powerful positions in the legislature, while tax credit fraud runs rampant and ignored. While Switzer and cronies pillage the state treasury.”

Oklahoma Watchdog contacted the Miller campaign late Thursday afternoon seeking comment. There had been no response by the time this story was posted.

Attempts to reach Barry Switzer were also unsuccessful.

When Askins’ campaign manager Hudson was asked where Askins stood on the issue of tax credits and the way they are used in Oklahoma, he said “she is very skeptical of the more high-profile tax credits.”

“Some have had a positive impact,” Hudson said. “She has said we don’t need to throw them all out per se. Should be means testing to see what ones work and what ones don’t work.”

“She’s not someone who says ‘I’ll do that or I don’t do that.’ She will weigh them program-by-program. The rural tax credit program has had a mixed bag of things,” Hudson said.

Added Hudson: “She doesn’t want to throw them out and say they’re all bad. Some have worked and some have not.”

A separate source who also contacted Oklahoma Watchdog about Switzer’s public endorsement sees more at play here as well.

“”(Switzer) wants her guarantee to continue the tax credit program,” the source said. “That’s what this is all about. Switzer wants the program to continue.”

As for the Edmondson campaign, spokesman Gil Broyles said, when asked about the tax credit issue being a major issue in Switzer’s endorsement of Askins, “I hadn’t heard anything like that” but said he would call back if there was anything “substantive” to the rumor.

Copyright 2010 Oklahoma Watchdog

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Andrew Griffin is a freelance journalist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

  • http://prowlingowl.com Nick Baker

    Andrew, was kind enough to ask for my comments on this, but I don’t track the political buzz. I would like to take this opportunity to interject what I view as important.

    Without exception, every state official; elected, appointed or career; that has served since 2007; has been provided evidence of tax credit fraud; on numerous occasions. Yet they all, with the one exception of State Representative, Mike Reynolds, turned their backs, and ignored.

    The evidence is all well documented and consists mostly, of publicly available, state documents; anyone can access, compare, and examine. There is no excuse for anyone who can find enough of their own fingers and toes do a little elementary math, and “willing to serve the public interest,” to see the wrong.

    “Willing to serve the public interest,” is the operative phrase.

    Oklahoma tax payers are victims of public corruption, costing $100s million, facilitated by willful ignorance and negligence, by an entire state government.

    All of that to say, that the statements made by all candidates regarding what they might do, regarding the subject of tax credit fraud, have to be questioned. They have all there and failed, time, after time, after time……………………

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  • redscout

    great reporting, This is the kind of information that needs to get to the people of Oklahoma. You can just figure from Barry Switzer’s past dealing that every thing he does in the public areana is about the money.

    This endorsemnet is no different. There has probably been an agreement with the Askins camp to look favorablly on the tax credit deal.

  • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

    I am beginning to dislike Barry Switzer immensely. It appears that there is much going on here that the average Oklahoma citizen knows nothing about. Thanks for publishing this information.

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