Re­pub­li­cans raise most fund­ing in state trea­surer, au­di­tor races

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - METRO | STATE - BY RANDY EL­LIS Staff Writer rel­lis@ok­la­

Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates for state trea­surer and au­di­tor have amassed huge cam­paign fund­ing ad­van­tages as they seek to hold off in­de­pen­dent and Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­dates in the Nov. 6 gen­eral elec­tion.

In the race for state trea­surer, Re­pub­li­can Randy McDaniel of Ed­mond has raised more than $320,000, com­pared to less than $34,000 for in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Charles de Coune of Ok­la­homa City.

In the au­di­tor and in­spec­tor’s race, Re­pub­li­can Cindy Byrd of Coal­gate has re­ceived more than $146,000 in con­tri­bu­tions, com­pared to less than $5,000 for Lib­er­tar­ian John Yeut­ter of Tahle­quah.

All fundrais­ing fig­ures were as ofOct. 22.

The can­di­dates are seek­ing to re­place State Trea­surer Ken Miller and State Au­di­tor Gary Jones, who are term lim­ited.

Trea­surer’s race

De Coune, 46, said he knows the chal­lenges that an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date faces and hadn’t planned on run­ning for trea­surer un­til he saw that State Rep. McDaniel was seek­ing the post.

As a state law­maker, McDaniel was one of the ar­chi­tects of plans that re­vamped the state’s trou­bled teacher and state em­ployee re­tire­ment sys­tems.

McDaniel, 51, has de­scribed the changes he ad­vo­cated as re­forms that were needed to pro­tect the sol­vency of the sys­tems, but de Coune said he be­lieves the changes McDaniel pushed have harmed the state.

“My op­po­nent nip­ping at teach­ers’ and work­ers’ ben­e­fits for the past 12 years has been very dam­ag­ing to the econ­omy and, frankly, that is what not only has pushed teach­ers to go to Texas and Arkansas, but also has pre­vented com­pa­nies from com­ing to Ok­la­homa,” de Coune said.

McDaniel dis­agreed.

“My goal has been to help en­sure the ben­e­fits that have been promised will be ful­filled for all the ded­i­cated pub­lic em­ploy­ees who have earned them,” McDaniel said. “In the past, the pen­sion sys­tems were in fi­nan­cial trou­ble. I led an ef­fort to im­ple­ment rea­son­able re­forms, many of which were passed with bi­par­ti­san sup­port. To­day, the pen­sion sys­tems are stronger and bet­ter funded than at any point in the past decade.”

For the past seven years, de Coune has served as lend­ing man­ager/comptroller for the Ok­la­homa Wa­ter Re­sources Board. Prior to that, he worked 12 years for MidFirst Bank. He also has served as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for an Ok­la­homa City char­ter school.

McDaniel has been a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive for 12 years and has served as chair­man of the House Bank­ing Com­mit­tee. He has worked 20 years as a fi­nan­cial ad­viser, work­ing with both in­di­vid­ual and in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors.

Au­di­tor’s race

Yeut­ter, the Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date in the state au­di­tor’s race, is a 64-year-old ac­count­ing in­struc­tor at North­east­ern State Univer­sity in Tahle­quah.

“The main is­sue for an au­di­tor al­ways is in­de­pen­dence, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency in gov­ern­ment,” Yeut­ter said. “I think I’m unique in that I have been out­side the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. I’m not tied to the Democrats or the Re­pub­li­cans.”

Yeut­ter said he chose to be a Lib­er­tar­ian be­cause he sees it as a “call for gov­ern­ment to be re­spon­si­ble to the in­di­vid­ual rather than the in­di­vid­ual to be re­spon­si­ble to the gov­ern­ment.”

“I’ve al­ways felt that the gov­ern­ment is my ser­vant and when they have my money they need to be trans­par­ent with it,” he said.

Byrd, the Re­pub­li­can can­di­date in the au­di­tor’s race, is cur­rently the deputy state au­di­tor for lo­cal gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

“Peo­ple should elect me be­cause ex­pe­ri­ence mat­ters and I’m ready to get to work on Day 1,” said Byrd, 45. “Ev­ery­one is call­ing for more au­dits. Tax­pay­ers want it. The can­di­dates for gov­er­nor want it. Ev­ery­one wants more ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency and that’s what I bring to the ta­ble.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in the au­di­tor’s of­fice,” Byrd said. “Gary Jones has done great things dur­ing his terms and I will con­tinue to build on that.”

Byrd said she looks for­ward to help­ing state law­mak­ers un­der­stand the var­i­ous types of au­dits that can be done to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency.

In­de­pen­dent Charles de Coune, left and Re­pub­li­can Randy McDaniel, can­di­dates for state trea­surer

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