Oklahoma’s Speaker of the House, T.W. Shannon, officially announced his intention to run for an open U.S. Senate seat, but he has declined to give up his speakership responsibilities in the state legislature. Does this position create a conflict of interest for Shannon?

“Speaker Shannon has a lot more power asking for donations from lobbyists than just regular T.W. running for the United States Senate,” said ODP Chair Wallace Collins. “He can now continue to use taxpayer funds to campaign across the state under the guise of doing business from the office of the Speaker.”

During the 2012 cycle Speaker Shannon raised over $30,000 from lobbyists and special interests. The special interests that represent groups like private prisons, alcohol & tobacco, and corporate charter schools use money to get preferential treatment from the Speaker who sets the legislative agenda.

Chairman Collins concluded, “Oklahomans deserve a real leader who can provide innovative solutions, not a failed Speaker who is trying to build himself a life raft pointed to Washington D.C., all while leaving our state with a $170 million budget shortfall.”