Dark Money Group Behind Kendra Horn’s Rise
Oklahoma Dem benefited from hundreds of thousands in anonymous donations
Oklahoma congresswoman Kendra Horn (D.) raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for a pair of progressive advocacy groups, kickstarting her 2018 run for office. The Democrat now claims to be "fundamentally opposed" to dark money.
Horn served as executive director of Sally's List—a group that aims to "train, support, and elect progressive women to public office in Oklahoma"—from 2015 to 2017, according to the Oklahoma Daily. The Democrat also founded Women Lead Oklahoma in 2015, a nonprofit that "encourages women to participate in civic life." With Horn at the helm, the groups combined to raise nearly $540,000 without disclosing a single donor on their tax forms.
Horn placed financial transparency at the center of her 2018 campaign against former Republican congressman Steve Russell, claiming she would "get dark money out of our elections" to "restore a balance of power." The Democrat's rhetoric continued as a member of Congress—after defeating Russell by less than 2 points, Horn said she was "fundamentally opposed" to conservative dark money groups criticizing her 2019 vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
"These dark money groups—we don't know who's behind them, they don't have to report who's given them money," Horn told the Oklahoman. "That's why I'm fundamentally opposed to them."
But dark money played a key role in Horn's political ascent to Congress. Roughly one-quarter of the dark money Horn raised for the two groups—more than $131,000—went to the Democrat directly, according to tax forms reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. The groups also allowed Horn to form lucrative relationships with wealthy business leaders in the state. Sonic Drive-In president Claudia San Pedro contributed thousands of dollars to Horn's campaign after speaking at a Women Lead Oklahoma luncheon in March 2018. Oklahoma trial attorney Susan Carns Curtiss, who also addressed the group at a 2018 event, has given Horn thousands since 2017.
Horn did not respond to a request for comment.