By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, February 21, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY – The sudden appearance of a website for a mysterious group called “United OKC” and operated by an equally-mysterious group called “Catalyst Oklahoma” got our attention two weeks ago and we noted it in our Feb. 9, 2014 story “Mysterious group ‘OKC United’ seeks vague goals.” ...
Investigating further, things didn’t get any less murky when this same group – Catalyst Oklahoma, Inc. - began putting out mass mailings, robocalls and Internet ads this week pushing Mayor Mick Cornett and his current effort to win a fourth term as mayor. Clearly a lot of money is being poured into the operation.
The mailers say: “Mayor Mick Cornett’s leadership is working for Oklahoma City.” And right beside that: “Don’t forget to Vote on March 4!” Oddly, some of the mailers are showing up in the mailboxes of homes in The Village.
So, doing some digging, alongside RDR intern Ian Carr, we discovered some curious connections between a figure connected with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; three women in Wilmington, Delaware; one of the most powerful law firms in the world; Devon Energy; and a chamber-linked lawyer in Edmond.
Republican Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a former local television sports news anchor, entered politics with a successful run against a two-term incumbent on the City Council in 2001. On February 24, 2004, Cornett was elected mayor with 58 percent of the vote, and has since won two more races. Will he win a fourth with the backing of the secretive Catalyst Oklahoma?
And while the picture has yet to be crystal clear, this much we know: Back in November 2013, three women – Catherine D. Ledyard, Mary E. Keogh, and Deborah M. Reusch, all based at the Wilmington, Del. offices of uber-powerful global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom - incorporated the not-for-profit Catalyst Oklahoma.
And for those unfamiliar with Skadden Arps, Forbes magazine called the firm “Wall Street’s most powerful law firm.” They are the second largest law firm in the world in terms of revenue, worth over $2.1 billion and employing over 4,000 people in cities stretching from Beijing to Munich and from Singapore to Toronto.
So, we wanted to know why a powerful firm like Skadden Arps would be so interested in Oklahoma City’s mayor’s race?
Red Dirt Report called Catherine Ledyard at her Skadden Arps office in Wilmington and she told this reporter that while she understood that I had questions, any media inquiries must first go through the proper channels. As of our Friday deadline, we have not heard from any spokespeople representing Skadden Arps. ...