The Big Money behind Doug Okuniewicz
Who Is Doug Okuniewicz?
Doug “Doug-O” Okuniewicz is running as a Republican candidate for the Idaho Legislature in Idaho’s Legislative District 2. As of this report, Doug Okuniewicz is a registered lobbyist for Coeur D’Alene Racing, LTD. He is also the president of AIM Management, Inc. and president of the Greene Idaho Foundation. Doug Okuniewicz is the past chairman of Winning For Idaho, a political action committee almost completely funded by Coeur D’Alene Racing, LTD.
In this exposé, Boise Leaks reveals the power and money behind candidate Doug Okuniewicz.
Winning For Idaho PAC
Winning For Idaho (WFI) is a political action committee (PAC) controlling contributions up to $330,498.20 (as of 12/31/2018), with out of state contributions (Alabama) totaling 17.65%. WFI’s main focus is gambling and gaming, with Coeur D’Alene Racing LTD contributing $280,498.20.
From 2008 until just before he ran for the LD2 Legislative seat in 2016, Doug Okuniewicz was Chairman of Winning For Idaho. A complete summary of WFI’s contributors and expenditures from 2009 through 2018 can be found here (from www.PlatformAdherenceCommittee.org* cash tracer.)
The WFI expenditure summary reads like a Who’s Who of Idaho Legislators, including numerous contributions to Idaho Democrats. Here is a partial list of Democratic Legislators and organizations that WFI has contributed to…
- Rep. Steven Berch, LD-15, $500
- Rep. Diane Bilyeu, LD29, $500
- Rep. Jake Ellis, LD-15, $500
- Rep. Mat Erpelding, LD-13, $1,350
- Rep. John Gannon, LD-17, $500
- Rep. Brook Green, LD-18, $250
- Rep. John McCrostie, LD-16, $500
- Rep. Ilana Rubel, LD-18, $250
- Rep. John Rusche, LD-6, $3,500
- Sen. Dan Schmidt, LD-5, $1,000
- Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, LD-2 (Now part of LD-5) $1,000
- Rep. Elaine Smith, LD-29, $800
- Sen. Cherie Buckner–Webb, LD-19, $500
- Sen. Grant Burgoyne, LD-16, $3,250
- Maryanne Jordan, LD-17, $500
- Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, $2,500
- Sen. Mark Nye, LD-29, $1,000
- Sen. Michelle Stennett, LD-26, $2,750
- Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, LD-18, $1,750
- Rep. Shirley Ringo, LD-5, $250
Political Action Committees are often used to shield donors from direct involvement in an organization or political campaign. Donors can contribute to a PAC and enjoy some limited anonymity from politically risky campaign contributions to controversial groups or candidates. There are also numerous instances where PACs were used to defraud the public, as was the case with former State Senator, Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow.)
Dan Schmidt is the former treasurer of the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (IDLCC.) In 2014, the IDLCC staged a fraudulent mail campaign utilizing a fraudulent PAC called Patriot PAC in an attempt to disrupt the Republican Primary in Legislative District 5. The IDLCC funded the fraudulent effort with two donations totaling $1,266.69 to Patriot PAC. Donations from Winning For Idaho to the IDLCC in 2013 and 2014 total $2,500.
We used the Platform Adherence Committee’s Cash Tracer to find the donations, then went to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office to pull the PDF copies of the Sunshine Reports listed below.
Winning For Idaho Contributions to the IDLCC in 2013 & 2014.
IDLCC 2013 contribution From Winning For Idaho. See page 9.
IDLCC 2014 Contribution From Winning For Idaho. See Page 3.
Winning For Idaho 2013 contribution to the IDLCC showing Doug Okuniewicz as Chairman. See page 4.
Winning For Idaho 2014 pre-primary contribution to the IDLCC showing Doug Okuniewicz as chairman. See Page 3.
Winning For Idaho, October 10, 2014 report showing contributions to numerous Democrats with Doug Okuniewicz as chairman.
PACs are also prohibited from directly conferring with political candidates, which is presumably why Doug Okuniewicz resigned his position as Chairman of WFI in 2016.
It should be noted that the Idaho Sunshine Report must contain both the name of the political action committee and the name of the chairman. Conspicuously, Doug Okuniewicz’s name is omitted from several sunshine reports.
Coeur d’Alene Racing, LTD
Coeur d’Alene Racing, LTD was established in 1987 initially as a business to operate one or more pari-mutual racing facilities in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Paul Bryant Jr. of Alabama/Idaho, Inc. was the signing General Partner. That changed over the years to include Doug Okuniewicz as General Partner. Its secondary function is the expansion of the gambling and related industries in Idaho through political action committees and lobbying activity.
As of 12/22/2019, Doug Okuniewicz remains a registered lobbyist employed by Coeur D’Alene Racing, LTD.
Doug Okuniewicz’s filing as a lobbyist for Coeur D’Alene Racing, LTD, can be found on page 3 of this document.
Coeur d’Alene Racing LTD, 2019 Annual Report. This document shows Alabama as the state of incorporation and that Alabama/Idaho, Inc. as the General Partner.
Coeur d’Alene Racing LTD, 2017 Annual Report. This document shows Doug Okuniewicz as the general partner in 2017.
The Greene Group
At the top of it all is The Greene Group.
The Greene Group, Inc. is an Alabama corporation owning several subsidiaries. Among those are, AIM Management, Inc. and Texas Pari-Mutual, Inc. Texas Pari-Mutual, Inc., owns Alabama Idaho, Inc., which owns Coeur d’Alene Racing, Inc. (see Figure 2)
The Greene Group was the subject of an investigation by then Ada County Commissioner, Sharon Ullman.
Highlights of Commissioner Ullman’s investigation include references to a 1995 article in the Spokesman Review detailing acts of animal cruelty at the Coeur d’Alene race track, which was and is owned by The Green Group, Inc.
According to LegalSchnauser.com, another Greene Group subsidiary, Alabama Reassurance Company, Inc., “was implicated in a $15-million fraud scheme involving a Philadelphia lawyer and entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart. Stewart was convicted in December 1997 on 135 counts of racketeering, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.” Allen W. Stewart is named alongside Alabama Reassurance Company in a legal memorandum (see page 17) indicating that the parties “defrauded the people of Kentucky in certain arrangements in order to inflate their financial statements.”
Comments on a website which desires to end dog racing, www.grey2kusa.org, seem to indicate that one of the goals of the Greene Group may have been to secure state subsidies for dog racing and potentially other gambling enterprises, similar to the state subsidies available to the industry in other states.
Update 1/17/2020 Arrest Record(s)
This document is a citation (#4Z0728827) for a violation of Washington statute 9.41.300.19.41 – possession of a weapon in a certain place.
This document is a court motion to dismiss the case, filed by the City of Spokane based on a plea negotiation.
Update 1/18/2020 Connection With Racing Commissioner
A 6/8/2019 Annual Report for JH Benefits, LLC, shows candidate and racing/gambling lobbyist, Doug Okuniewicz is currently a member of an organization managed by “current” Racing Commissioner, James C Hammond. According to the Idaho Racing Commission website, James Hammond’s term as commissioner expired as of 1/1/2019. As of this report, Governor Brad Little has not replaced Commissioner Hammond or extended his tenure.
Other members of JH Benefits, LLC include Randy Oaks of the Alabama based, Greene Group. The Green Group owns the Coeur d’Alene racing park, which is managed by Doug Okuniewicz.
Analysis & Opinion
The Greene Group is a foreign corporation relative to the State of Idaho, as are most of its subsidiaries. While Idahoans should welcome out-of-state investment as one method for creating jobs, Idahoans should be cautious when special interests seek to use tax dollars to subsidize their ventures or buy the allegiance of our politicians.
Dog racing is known to be a taxpayer subsidized, recreational activity in certain other states, with the gambling industry lobbying state governments to subsidize it. Doug Okuniewicz’s heavy involvement in the gambling/gaming industry and his connection to the Greene Group in particular is irrefutable. As a registered lobbyist for a potentially taxpayer subsidized gambling industry, Okuniewicz’s ability to fairly represent the Idaho taxpayer is highly suspect.
What better way to “expand gaming,” “get legislative approval” or secure taxpayer subsidies for your gambling enterprise than to become a state legislator?
If true, the reported animal cruelty issues surrounding the Green Group’s Post Falls dog racing track should be enough to cast a doubt on the intentions and integrity of every organization and individual involved.
Illegal conduct involving “mail fraud,” as with the case against Allen W. Stewart and his associates at Greene Group subsidiary, Alabama Reassurance Company, should not go unnoticed.
Under his chairmanship from 2008 to 2016, Okuniewicz’s PAC, Winning For Idaho, has contributed directly to Democratic organizations and Democratic candidates. One could make the argument that Doug Okuniewicz’s PAC, Winning For Idaho’s contributions helped pay for the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s fraudulent action against a member of Okuniewicz’s own party.
Update 1/16/2020 Related Information
Idaho Code 74-402 provides the Policy and Purpose of Ethics in Government.
Since publishing the above, we have received additional information regarding how certain northern Idaho Republican precincts/districts previously censured Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Tommy Ahlquist, who ran as a Republican with a history of donating to Democrats.
This document is a reprint of an article written by Betsy Z. Russel, published by the Spokesman Review on October 9, 2017. Several Kootenai County Republican Central Committee members are quoted in the article, including high-ranking party officers, Bjorn Handeen, Duane Rasmussen and 2020 Idaho Senate Candidate, Alex Barron. Duane Rasmussen is quoted as saying that, “it is a cardinal sin to contribute to Democrats.” Bjorn Handeen’s comments even include a swipe at donations to “moderate Republicans.”
The resolution censuring gubernatorial candidate, Tommy Ahlquist, can be found on Page 3 of this document.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction of Kootenai County Republican officials to these revelations about Doug Okuniewicz.
Update 1/18/2020 Okuniewicz Connection with Racing Commissioner James Hammond.
Idaho Code 74-402 provides the Policy and Purpose of Ethics in Government.
Idaho Code 74-402, guards the public from conflicts of interest.
Paragraphs 3, 4 & 5 focus on personal interests, public trust and special interests unethical influence on government. IC 74-402 was put in place to guard against conflicts of interest.
The Greene Group of companies already has a tarnished history regarding issues of public trust. Doug Okuniewicz is a racing/gambling industry lobbyist. Considering Commissioner Hammond’s existing relationship with Doug Okuniewicz, it could be considered a conflict of interest when legislation involving racing, gambling or other forms of gaming are involved.