Non-profit

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Location:

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

Tax ID:

73-1436375

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,889,879
Expenses: $2,486,740
Assets: $5,606,927

Type:

Non-profit

President:

Jonathan Small

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a right-of-center think tank and advocacy organization located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma that focuses on promoting right-leaning and free-market policies in the state of Oklahoma. The group is a member of the State Policy Network, a consortium state-based, right-of-center policy organizations that promote free market policies in state governments. The group promotes various right- and libertarian-leaning public policies including school choice, moderate liberalization of criminal justice, and public pension reform. [1]

The organization has a small affiliate organization, OCPA Impact, that engages in direct lobbying activity. [2]

Background

The Oklahoma Public Affairs Council was founded in 1993 as the Oklahoma state-level affiliate of the State Policy Network (SPN). The State Policy Network is a national center-right policy organization that supports state-based policy and advocacy organizations across the United States. Like many other State Policy Network-affiliated groups, the organization was formed with the intention of modeling a state level conservative-leaning think tank after national groups such as the Heritage Foundation. [3]

The founding of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs was led by David Brown, an Oklahoma City- based orthopedic surgeon and clinical professor at the University of Oklahoma. In addition to his role in founding the OCPA, Brown has sat as a board member of several groups including the Heritage Foundation and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. [4]

Activity

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs promotes policies and publishes research around many free-market issues including school choice, taxation, criminal justice, and public pensions. [5] The organization also hosts several collections of state open records, including data on state employee salaries, state employee and teacher pensions, state revenue and expenses, and state payments to vendors. [6]

The organization has also launched a program called Aim Higher OK that promotes conservative principles among college students and targets an alleged predominance of left-leaning thought and political stances on college campuses. The group also runs a fellowship program named after late historian Rufus Fears that teaches students about traditional free-market and conservative theory. [7]

The OCPA is also involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-leaning membership group for state lawmakers that has been criticized by many left-leaning organizations and activists. In 2013, during left-wing protests at the ALEC annual meeting in Chicago, the OCPA issued a statement supporting ALEC, praising the group for several of its policy priorities and for hosting then-Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), who was a former ALEC “legislator of the year” award winner. [8] OCPA’s current president, Jonathan Small, is a former recipient of the ALEC private-sector member of the year award. [9]

The OCPA has also received financial support from the right-of-center Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which provided $450,000 in funds to the organization and its now defunct national affiliate, the OCPA Liberty Foundation, in 2014. [10]

Paycom SLAPP Controversy

In March 2020, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs published a news article[11] that criticized Chad Richison, CEO of payroll technology company Paycom, who had sent a letter to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) recommending stricter lockdowns in the state, including bans on nonessential air travel and closures of personal-care businesses, to prevent spread of COVID-19. [12]

Paycom responded by filing a lawsuit against OCPA;[13] OCPA alleged that the lawsuit amounted a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) that violated the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act, legislation to combat litigation intended to silence protected speech. [14] In February 2021, a state court dismissed Paycom’s suit with prejudice, holding that “Paycom’s claims against OCPA relate to or are in response to the OCPA’s exercise of the right to free speech.” [15]

As of March 2021, OCPA was involved in court proceedings seeking to recover legal fees from Paycom under Oklahoma law. [16]

References

  1. “Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://spn.org/organization/oklahoma-council-of-public-affairs/ ^
  2. “IRS Form 990.” OCPA Impact. 2018. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/273686718/02_2020_prefixes_27-30%2F273686718_201812_990EO_2020020617113828 ^
  3. “Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://spn.org/organization/oklahoma-council-of-public-affairs/ ^
  4. “David R. Brown.” Heritage Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://www.heritage.org/staff/david-r-brown-md ^
  5. “Issues.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://www.ocpathink.org/about#issues ^
  6. “Data Tools.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://www.ocpathink.org/data-tools ^
  7. “Home.” Aim Higher OK. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://www.aimhigherok.com/ ^
  8. “ALEC: Fighting for Free Market, Limited Government, Federalism.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Accessed January 23, 2021. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/alec-fighting-for-free-markets-limited-government-and-federalism ^
  9. “Jonathan Small.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Accessed January 23, 2021.  https://www.ocpathink.org/team/jonathan-small ^
  10. “2014 Annual Report.” Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2021.  https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4152914/Annual%20Report/2014%20AnnualReport.pdf ^
  11. Carter, Ray. “Stitt: Businesses Survival Important to State Recovery.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, March 23, 2020. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/stitt-businesses-survival-important-to-state-recovery. ^
  12. Richison, Chad. “Letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt,” March 22, 2020. https://htv-prod-media.s3.amazonaws.com/files/gov-stitt-recommendations-1584906642.pdf. ^
  13. “OCPA Statement on Paycom Lawsuit.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, May 4, 2020. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/ocpa-statement-on-paycom-lawsuit. ^
  14. Small, Jonathan. “Billionaire Sues OCPA.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, May 4, 2020. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/billionaire-sues-ocpa. ^
  15. “OCPA Defeats Meritless Paycom Lawsuit, Cancel Culture Effort.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, February 23, 2021. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/ocpa-defeats-meritless-paycom-lawsuit-cancel-culture-effort. ^
  16. “Paycom, Having Lost in Court, Tries to Avoid Paying Up.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, March 4, 2021. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/paycom-having-lost-in-court-tries-to-avoid-paying-up. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1998

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,889,879 $2,486,740 $5,606,927 $1,172,879 N $2,365,295 $505,278 $1,436 $168,600 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,944,188 $2,173,852 $5,599,741 $1,568,836 N $1,389,793 $516,915 $2,276 $386,357
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,730,203 $1,964,560 $5,873,830 $1,613,261 N $2,357,676 $370,947 $1,580 $474,360 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,261,816 $1,811,131 $3,645,832 $150,906 N $1,806,968 $0 $4,289 $342,735 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,133,193 $2,120,037 $3,464,821 $420,580 N $1,874,756 $0 $4,262 $734,660 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,428,599 $1,859,825 $3,605,823 $579,139 N $1,320,021 $0 $3,157 $611,870 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $3,060,027 $1,806,961 $4,135,848 $679,637 N $3,092,068 $0 $1,603 $290,535 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

    1401 N LINCOLN BLVD
    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73104-2801