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Republican Attorneys General Assocation spending $400,000 on ad supporting Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter

This is a screen grab from a new ad for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. Endorsing him is former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts.

In the latest twist in the state's most hotly contested political race, a national group is spending $400,000 on an ad supporting Attorney General Mike Hunter.

The 30-second ad began airing Tuesday morning.

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) created and funded a new state PAC to make the independent expenditure.

In the ad, former U.S. Representative J.C. Watts praises Hunter, calling him a proven conservative.

"I trust Mike Hunter to protect Oklahoma, so it's an easy vote for me. Mike Hunter for attorney general," Watts said.

The ad concludes with the disclaimer that it is not authorized or paid for by any candidate or candidate committee.

The ad could be a boost for Hunter, particularly because Watts is still remembered across the state for his success as a University of Oklahoma quarterback before going into politics.

Hunter is in a tight race against Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond. The two Republicans will be on the primary election ballot June 26 with a third GOP candidate, Angela Bonilla.

Hunter has been on the defensive the last two months because Drummond has repeatedly called him a lobbyist from the D.C. "swamp." Hunter has complained that is a misrepresentation of his time as chief operating officer for two trade organizations.

"I just couldn't stay silent," Watts told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. "God help us when we make someone as quality as Mike Hunter the bad guy."

Hunter worked for Watts in Congress as his chief of staff from 1995 to 1999.

RAGA was created in 1999 and has become more active in politics over the years. It donated $6.7 million to the Republican AG candidate who lost in Virginia last year.

Scott Pruitt was twice RAGA chairman while Oklahoma's attorney general and was instrumental in the organization becoming more influential.

Both RAGA and the new PAC, Oklahomans for Constitutional Integrity, have the same Washington, D.C., address.

Asked about the ad Tuesday, Drummond said, "It shouldn't surprise anyone that a D.C. dark money group is spending nearly a half-million dollars to support their D.C. lobbyist friend."

RAGA officials do not consider their organization a "dark money" group because they identify contributors. "All RAGA donors are disclosed to the IRS in compliance with federal law," said Zack Roday, communications director.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His... Read more ›

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