In terms of fundraising, Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has thus far outpaced the two candidates trying to unseat him.
The incumbent chief raised $48,350 from individuals and casino-related businesses leading into the April 4 primary, compared to Joe Tillman’s $29,355 – over $8,000 of which was anonymously given in cash – and Angela Pratt’s $5,037.
Among candidates for assistant chief, only R.J. Walker reported accepting a donation, and he received only one for $1,000 – from his mother, Celeste Davis and her husband Mark. He was fined half that amount for failing to file his campaign finance report by the March 18 deadline.
Standing Bear was the only candidate who contributed nothing to his own campaign and was also the only one who accepted money from businesses, including $5,800 from Crossland Construction, which is building the new casinos in Bartlesville and Pawhuska and built the Tulsa casino.
Standing Bear also accepted contributions from three other businesses with casino ties: $5,800 from White Buffalo Development Co., a native-owned company based in Tulsa and owner’s representative on the current casino projects; $5,800 from Keith Haney Racing, whose owner has six car dealerships and owns the Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park with which the casino has a partnership; and $2,000 from Thompson Construction Inc. of Tulsa, which was the contractor on the Skiatook Casino (as well as three of the Haney car dealerships).
Tillman: Wads of cash
Osage Nation Congressman Joe Tillman had 29 named contributors giving $21,225 – and also chalked up the only anonymous contributions reported by any candidate, bringing the total cash he raised to $30,335.
Tillman listed five individual no-name cash infusions totaling $8,130, $2,500, $2,300, $1,580 and $750 on Jan. 23 – the day of his announcement dinner in Grayhorse – and $1,000 on March 11.
The Osage Nation election code allows “anonymous or unidentifiable cash donations” to be listed under miscellaneous donations. There is no cap in Osage law on the amount of anonymous contributions for candidates – although there is a $200 limit for donations supporting or opposing ballot issues such as the 2020 referendum on whether the Nation should institute term limits.
State election law, which does not apply to Osages, bars anonymous or cash donations over $50.
On the day after his dinner, Tillman’s campaign report shows that he deposited $7,180 in cash into his account at Blue Sky Bank, along with $2,475 in checks.
Tillman said that he had no idea who had donated the cash and that had he known, he would have reported it.
“Every function we had we set up a basket and at Grayhorse there were envelopes with significant amounts of money in them. I think there were four different envelopes and a wad of cash in a rubber band. I don’t have a clue where those came from. If I did, I would definitely put those on my campaign sheet.”
Tillman’s named donors who gave $1,000 or more, all giving $1,000 unless otherwise noted: Jim and Linda Perrier, ranchers; Randy and Joan Kretchmar, owners of a distributing company in Medford, OK, ($5,000); Terry Suellentrop , CEO of an Oklahoma City tech company called 3Nines ($1,500); Zach Barrett; Mark Stanley, a Tulsa attorney; 63 Ranch LLC, which lists an Oklahoma City address in corporate records and also donated an in-kind $1,000 dinner, and; Kirk Hamilton and Stephanie Priest, she being Tillman’s sister in law. Tillman also funded himself to the tune of $1,000 before he got any donations.
So far, Tillman has spent about $8,250, leaving him with more than $22,000.
His campaign expenses were unremarkable, spent on mailers, food, hotels, event rentals, signs and so on.
Standing Bear: Backed by lawyers, casino vendors
Chief Standing Bear, unsurprisingly, was first out of the chute in fundraising. Back in August of 2021, he started with a donation of nearly $5,000 from Joseph “Sonny” Abbott of Hominy, a veteran powerbroker in Osage and local politics. All told, Standing Bear raised $28,950 from 29 individuals and $19,400 from the companies mentioned above.
His contributors who gave $1,000 (or more if noted) were: David Riggs, a Tulsa attorney; Lisa Riggs, a Tulsa attorney; Mark Larson, CEO of Dynamic Gaming Technologies in Oklahoma City ($11,600); Byron Bighorse, Osage Casinos CEO and Standing Bear’s son in law ($2,915.67); Amanda Clinton, a Cherokee communications consultant ($1,150), and James Starr, President of slot-machine manufacturer Video Game Technologies ($5,800).
As they were with Tillman, Standing Bear’s expenses totaling $23,339.68 were unremarkable. He has $28,000 remaining in his campaign bank account.
Angela Pratt: 20 donors, all Osage
Osage Congress Speaker Angela Pratt has dipped into her personal bank account to pursue her run for principal chief, reporting “self-donations” totaling $13,800 and 20 donations from other individuals – all Osage – totaling $5,036.95.
She reported only two donors who gave more than $1,000: Dr. Moira Redcorn, an Osage psychiatrist who gave $1,056.95, and retired rancher John Branstetter, who donated $2,000 and whose wife, Jerri Jean Branstetter, is Pratt’s aunt.
Pratt also reported three in-kind donations totaling $1,000 for ad design, her husband picking up to pay cooks, and donated door prizes.
Like Standing Bear, she reported no cash or anonymous contributions.
Pratt’s expenses were also unremarkable and totaled about $16,300. She has just over $2,500 left in her campaign account.
To see all of the campaign donors and expenses, visit: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/elections/campaign-reporting-statements
Senior Reporter Benny Polacca contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to state there is no requirement in Osage law to name anonymous donors that contribute to a candidate’s campaign. It was incorrectly stated in an earlier version of this article that campaign contributions over $200 require anonymous donors to be named. The Osage News regrets the error.