Republican Sheriff Candidate Crashes Tulsa Democrats' Press Conference

Tuesday, March 8th 2016, 6:09 pm
By: News On 6

Tuesday, the Republican Tulsa County sheriff candidate crashed a Democratic Party media briefing where Democrats were calling for an investigation of his campaign donations.

"If somebody has funneled $5,000 or more to a straw donor, it's a felony," said Greg Bledsoe with the Tulsa Democratic Party.

Our partner, The Frontier, reviewed eight donor checks to Vic Regalado’s campaign that, from two people, combined, totaling $5,000 or more.

Democrats call his donations a "serious problem that undermines our democracy." Now, the longtime lawman is being accused of a campaign crime, and the topic nearly caused a yelling match between the two parties.

Regalado crashed the Democrat's media briefing calling for the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to investigate donations to his campaign for Tulsa County sheriff. It's too late to file a complaint in the race, but the Ethics Commission will decide whether it will investigate.

3/8/2016 Related Story: Tulsa County Democratic Party Wants Ethics Investigation Of Regalado Campaign

The back and forth between Democrat Rex Berry and Regalado got heated.

“Excuse me, may I interject here? Thanks for visiting, Vic. I appreciate your presence," Berry said.

A quarter of the donations to Regalado's campaign - about $40,000 - come from people tied to one company, ISTI Plant Services.

An investigation by News On 6 and our partner, The Frontier, found that 14 employees of ISTI, and their spouses, donated the maximum amount an individual can donate, or just under that amount, all on the same day.

2/26/2016 Related Story: TCSO Sheriff Candidate Receives Over $34,000 In Donations From One Company

Those people are Hispanic, and Regalado believes the Democrats are singling them out.

"I truly believe this is a political equivalent of racial profiling," he said. “They're excited about the prospect of the first Hispanic sheriff being elected in Tulsa County."

Tulsa Democrats say the campaign donations are criminal - straw donations from the company president, Santiago Barazza.

"There's enough smoke about this circumstance that any person with a brain can figure out what was going on, and he should wash his hands of this kind of activity," said Bledsoe.

Regalado said he met personally with Barazza, but not other donors from ISTI.

Tuesday, Regalado read cards signed by donors saying, "The contribution listed above was freely and voluntarily given by me from my personal property. I have not directly been compensated or reimbursed for the contribution. These aren't required, yet, they're on file."

Regalado said he is open to an investigation.

"If I'm elected sheriff, I should be able to stand up here and answer these questions. And I will. And I have," he said.

The president of the Hispanic Chamber posted on Facebook, "[The Tulsa Democratic Party is] singling out a Hispanic-owned business and the Hispanic donors...simply because they have donated to a fellow Hispanic who is making a historic bid for public office here in Tulsa County."

You can read more about this story by visiting our partner, The Frontier's website.