Felony charges against Oklahoma's top public education official - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Felony charges against Oklahoma's top public education official

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma's top education official has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that accuse her of illegally raising money to challenge the incumbent superintendent in the 2014 Republican primary election.

Online Oklahoma County court records show that state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister pleaded not guilty Friday during a brief appearance before Special Judge Russell Hall, who set Hofmeister's bond at $8,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing conference in the case for Dec. 13.

Prosecutors allege Hofmeister conspired with others to funnel money from a donor corporation and two education groups into an "independent expenditure" fund that would finance a negative ad campaign against former Superintendent Janet Barresi, who was defeated in the GOP primary.

Hofmeister said in a statement that she will "vigorously defend" her integrity and reputation against the allegations.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO)- Today, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister pleaded not guilty. She was booked and released at the Oklahoma County Jail.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Hofmeister and others plotted for more than a year to funnel money from a donor corporation and the two education groups into an "independent expenditure" fund that would finance a negative campaign ad.

Former Oklahoma Education Association Director Lela Odom, former Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration Executive Director Steven Crawford, and political consultants Fount Holland and Stephanie Milligan were also charged.

"I am confident that my actions throughout my campaign ... were consistent with these values and in compliance with the law," Hofmeister said. "I will not be distracted."

Hofmeister faces 10 years in prison on each of two conspiracy counts and one year on each of two campaign finance violations.

“I haven’t had a chance to review the charges. There’s a criminal justice system in place to review the allegations. We should respect the process and allow it to work as designed," said a statement released from Gov. Mary Fallin.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Prosecutors have filed felony charges against Oklahoma's top public education official, saying she raised money illegally while challenging the incumbent superintendent in the 2014 Republican primary and coordinated attack ads in violation of state law.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on Thursday announced the charges against Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. Two political consultants, a union leader and the former head of a schools group were also charged.

Hofmeister said she would fight the allegations and continue working.

The five are accused of circumventing state campaign finance laws by conspiring to funnel corporate contributions into a negative campaign against Hofmeister's Republican opponent, Janet Barresi. It is illegal in Oklahoma for a candidate to coordinate such expenditures.

Hofmeister became just the second Republican to lead the state's 700,000-student public school system.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO)— State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is accused of "knowingly accepting contributions in excess of the maximum amounts provided by law," "knowingly accepting corporate contributions" and conspiring to commit a felony violation.

"The investigation reveals a conspiracy to commit campaign contribution violations and illegal coordination by members of Oklahomans for Public School Excellence, Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and Oklahoma Education Association with political candidate Joy Hofmeister," court documents said.

The district attorney’s office investigation has been on-going since 2014. Hofmeister has served as state superintendent since January 2015.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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