McMahan Fires Abstract Division Director


Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 7:06 pm
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan on Tuesday fired the head of his abstract division, who has been identified in an FBI affidavit as giving someone else's money to a congressional campaign.

In a one-paragraph letter, McMahan informed Tim Arbaugh that as of 5 p.m., ``your services with the state auditor and inspector will no longer be required and your employment with this office will terminate. You will need to turn in keys immediately.''

Terri Watkins, spokeswoman for McMahan, said staff attorney Michelle Day had advised officials not to make any additional comments about the firing.

The firing came a day after McMahan said he was checking into questionable contributions to his 2002 campaign, while dismissing as politics a Republican official's call that McMahan resign over the contribution controversy.

Fifteen people who gave a total of more than $31,000 to McMahan in 2002 were identified by the FBI as receiving money from former state Sen. Gene Stipe to give to the 2004 campaign of U.S. Rep. Dan Boren of the 2nd Congressional District.

Boren said he had no knowledge of receiving any improper Stipe money in March 2004, two months after a federal judge sentenced Stipe to house arrest and fined him $735,567 for a similar scheme tied to Walt Roberts' unsuccessful 1998 congressional campaign.

Boren has given $34,600 from 21 of these so-called ``straw donors'' to his 2004 campaign to the Disabled Veterans Charitable Trust. Arbaugh was identified as giving $2,000 to Boren. He also gave $787 to McMahan in 2002.

A straw donor is a person who uses someone else's money to make a political contribution. Straw donations are used to disguise the real source of the contribution or to get around campaign spending limits.

Boren said he had sent a check covering the donations to the veterans group. The check was for $35,600 because it included $1,000 contributed by Stipe in 2005 to the 2nd District congressman.

Gov. Brad Henry also announced he was donating $35,000 in campaign funds to charity because they came from the same people that gave money to Boren.

Henry said he was not aware of any campaign problems tied to recent news accounts, ``but even the perception that a problem might exist is unacceptable to me.

``For that reason, I am donating $35,000 in campaign funds to two good causes: The USS Oklahoma Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which will honor fallen and surviving soldiers who served on the ship; and the Oklahoma National Guard Relief Fund, which provides assistance to guard members who serve our country and their families.''

The FBI has said there is no evidence that Boren knew of the straw donation scheme.

There has been no allegation of illegality involving donations to Henry's campaign.

Watkins said the McMahan campaign ``has a zero balance,'' and therefore cannot give money for charitable purposes.

``I wish we had the money to do what Governor Henry and Congressman Boren have done, but the money is simply not available in the campaign kitty,'' she said.