The testy race for Oklahoma County Sheriff took a new twist today, with incumbent Democrat John Whetsel’s campaign manager noting a disgraced former county commissioner has joined those opposing Whetsel.
Former Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart has inserted himself into the campaign, said Pat Hall.
Rinehart joins Al Gerhart of the Sooner Tea Party and some Oklahoma County GOP officials in opposing Whetsel, who faces Republican Darrell Sorrels on Tuesday.
“Rinehart is not a candidate, but is throwing his support behind the challenger in the race and paying for lies to be published about Sheriff John Whetsel,” Hall said.
In 2007, Rinehart faced felony charges of conspiracy, money laundering and perjury in an alleged scheme to infuse illegal campaign donations through a political action committee into his own campaign for county commissioner.
“Brent Rinehart was a guest of Sheriff Whetsel’s at the Oklahoma County Jail,” said Hall. “I’d guess that Rinehart did not enjoy his stay in the Oklahoma County jail when he broke the law and so now he is trying to get even and help elect a new sheriff, one that might look the other way if he tries to break the law again.”
In 2009, Rinehart pleaded guilty for his role in the illegal campaign contribution scheme. He was fined $1,000 and his three-year sentence was deferred. Now that Rinehart’s three years have passed (as of October 14), “it looks like he is back to his old illegal tricks again,” said Hall.
Hall said Rinehart paid for an advertisement against Whetsel in the EastWord News, a weekly publication that is distributed in eastern Oklahoma County. The ad claims that Whetsel has “worked to restrict our gun rights.”
Hall said there is currently a radio ad almost exactly like the newsprint ad that aired on KTOK this morning which said it was paid for by “the defeat liberal democrat John Whetsel PAC.” No such political action committee is registered with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, as required by Oklahoma law.
“You can tell a lot about person’s character and integrity by who they align themselves with. Rinehart is toxic and I’m surprised any candidate, even one who is known for telling lies would align themselves with a disgraced former inmate of the Oklahoma County jail,” said Hall. “Sheriff Whetsel is a conservative Sheriff who is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, an active lifetime member of both the ORA and the NRA and has the support of a long list of influential community leaders – Republicans and Democrats.”