Claremore Daily Progress

October 12, 2012

Take the money and run for office

Helm, Anderson get campaign money from vendors which may have violated state law

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Campaign finance reports for Rogers County District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm and Rogers County County Clerk-elect Robin Anderson show that vendors made multiple contributions to their 2012 campaigns.

Many of the donors currently do business with Rogers County and some of the contributions were listed to be directly from the business.
Helm won re-election in the June 26 primary by 270 votes over challenger Troy Wilstead. Anderson, who works as Helm’s FEMA coordinator, won election over Kit Kelley by 1,854 votes. 
According to state statute “no corporation shall contribute to any campaign fund or any party committee of this state. No candidate, candidate committee or other committee shall knowingly accept contributions given in violation.”
“I was not aware of the statute,” Helm said.
“The campaign manager takes care of it.”
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission publishes the reports to the public for review. 
Helm is listed to have received $1,000 from Donelson Construction Company, $1,000 from Green Construction, $1,000 from Clever Stone Co., $572.50 from Brian Kellogg of Kellogg Engineering, $200 from Rick Hayes of Retail Attractions, $500 from Newton Box or Boxer Equipment and $1,000 from David Charney, Owasso real-estate developer [Stone Canyon].
Of these vendors, all have done work with the county in the past few years many within the election year.
Rogers County spent more than $5 million with Donelson Construction in the past 12 months alone.
The county has spent more than $174,000 with Boxer Equipment and approximately $50,000 with Kellogg Engineering.
This does not include the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent with Guy Engineering, a firm that works with Kellogg.
Helm has spent in excess of $500,000 on the roads in Stone Canyon including extensive construction of N. 177th E. Ave.
Helm classifies the roadway as a section line road, yet it curves through the neighborhood and to a dead end at the entrance of the Patriot Golf Club.
Rick Hayes, founder of Retail Attractions is currently under contract to earn between $3,000 - $5,500 per month with Rogers County. The contract is scheduled to continue until 2013.
Helm did not offer an explanation of why the funds were accepted by his campaign.
“We send out a flier and an email about it through the campaign,” he said.
He provided no further comment on the matter.
USE OF COUNTY RESOURCES
To complicate matters, Helm used his county email account to promote his campaign.
Helm on multiple occasions used the county’s equipment and email service to discuss campaign matters. 
This included, but was not limited to, campaign fliers and promotional material.
Helm even used then County Public Information Officer Kristen Bergman to assist in the creation of campaign fliers and other publications.
Helm conducted regular campaign business, including finances with his campaign manager Christi Smith via his county email account.
The email transactions detail Bergman’s involvement.
Smith requested that Bergman provide written material to be used in campaign publications.
Bergman provided multiple examples of Helm’s accomplishments for Smith.
“Christi, I hope you find this information to be of use. Please let me know if I can help with anything else!” Bergman wrote in an email.
Bergman was hired by the county to work on the Material Services sales tax question and was paid more than $12,000 from highway funds in violation of state statute.
Records reflect the Anderson also used county resources for her campaign. 
Bergman also produced information to assist with Anderson’s campaign, according to the emails.
Smith invited Bergman to participate in Helm’s campaign committee meetings.
“It would be great if you could reply back, so that I can offer and share your words and bullet points on support and endorsement of his responsibilities, accomplishments, and leadership style that you’ve seen,” Smith wrote.
Bergman did provide a response detailing Helm and Anderson’s “accomplishments” including the $13 million in FEMA funds that the county received.
The FEMA funds were one of the primary items used throughout both campaigns.
Anderson additionally accepted $250 from Donelson and $200 from Charney.
Anderson was unavailable for comment.