Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hofmeister investigation over

The Hofmeister investigation is over, Ben Felder reports today in The Oklahoman.
Any investigation into state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister for campaign finance violations is "completely over," said Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. 
"It's dead, it's over, (the charges) will not be revived," Prater told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. "There is nothing there to look at." 
Prater's confirmation that his case into Hofmeister is complete comes a year after he dropped felony charges against her and four others, claiming any of the charges could be refiled. … 
In 2016, Prater charged Hofmeister with felony counts of accepting illegal donations to her 2014 campaign and conspiring to break campaign fundraising laws. … 
While Prater said there would be no further charges against Hofmeister, he did not rule it out for the other four individuals: Fount Holland, Hofmeister's former chief campaign consultant; Stephanie Dawn Milligan, the political consultant for Oklahomans for Public School Excellence; Lela Odom, who in 2014 was the executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association; and Steven Crawford, who was the executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. 
"I won't say it's over ... for the others," Prater said. "But (Hofmeister's) part of it is over, completely."
This is obviously welcome news for Hofmeister. "I knew I was innocent and that I had conducted myself appropriately,” she said last year when the charges were dropped. She said the accusations were “unjust and untrue."

In a court of law, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Joy Hofmeister is innocent, and we can rejoice with her and her family that this dark cloud has been lifted. Though I disagree with her views on parental choice, I actually like Joy. She seems to be a genuinely nice and caring lady, the kind of person you’d want your child to have for a first-grade teacher. I enjoyed our little chats as we toured schools in Indianapolis a few years ago.

At the same time, "innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," as Mitt Romney remarked last year. Oklahomans still have every right to consider what OCU law professor Andrew Spiropoulos has described as “the damning evidence in the public record.”

Make no mistake, that's the elephant in the classroom. The evidence against the Republican candidate for superintendent is still there in the public record. And for any observer with even half the bewilderment quotient of Ricky Ricardo, it begs explanation. After all, Hofmeister texted to her consultants Fount Holland and Trebor Worthen that a wind lobbyist is "interested in my IE 😁." She joked to Fount Holland, "Obviously, we can't do anything about the IE. 😁" She informed the Jenks superintendent that one strategist recommended "Chad Alexander for the independent campaign which would be where he would put CCOSA. OSSBA, OEA money, plus amounts from corporations as it would all be anonymous. This independent campaign would do negative ads and allow me to take the high road with my own campaign." In short, as Professor Spiropoulos observed last year:
No matter what Prater ultimately decides, there is no doubt that Hofmeister, her campaign consultants, and the operatives of the chief education establishment organizations agreed to run a campaign in which outside groups, funded by the establishment and their corporate toadies, would attack the incumbent, while Hofmeister would pretend her hands were clean. Remember that the public record contains emails from Hofmeister and the other principals confirming the plan. Hofmeister even joked about her skating of the law, never imagining that the rest of us would see her infamous smiley-face emojis.
Oklahomans have every right to weigh that evidence—as well as any explanation that Hofmeister may now provide as to how her conduct was somehow "appropriate" and why the accusations were "untrue." She may very well have a good explanation.

Doubtless the watchdog press will dig into the matter and ask her for one. 😁


UPDATE:

Despite "a raft of damning evidence of illegal campaign activity," Professor Spiropoulos writes in The Journal Record, "many of us who sharply criticize Hofmeister’s skewed ethical compass do not think that felony prosecution is the proper way to address her alleged breaches of legal and ethical norms—elections, legislative investigations, and impeachment charges should do the job."
The criminalization of politics only exacerbates the tribal warfare that is poisoning our politics and culture. Winning and losing elections shouldn’t be the difference between freedom and facing prison. I do not need or want my local district attorney to act as a censorious guardian of our political hygiene. ... 
But we cannot be distracted from understanding the institutional corruption lying at the core of the Hofmeister imbroglio. We must remember that the principal perpetrators of this attack on both fair elections and the effort to conduct education policy for the benefit of children are the capos of the education establishment interest groups who supplied both the money and the manpower for the coordination scheme.

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