Outlaws in OKC

“I’ve seen lots of funny men,” Oklahoma troubadour Woody Guthrie once sang about outlaws. “Some’ll rob you with a six gun / Some with a fountain pen.”

That could apply today to Clayton Bennett, a multimillionaire Oklahoma City banker who’s regularly wielded his fountain pen to loot public funds for his private gain.

Bennett is a Hall of Infamy player in the elite club of big league owners of pro-basketball teams, specializing in picking taxpayers’ pockets to finance his operations. In 2006, he and a few high-rolling partners bought the Seattle SuperSonics team, promptly demanding that locals pony up $500 million to build a new arena for them.

No, said Seattle. So Bennett & Gang scampered off to Oklahoma City with the team, renamed it the Thunder, and used their fountain pens to filch a $100 million subsidy from taxpayers there. Soon, Bennett and the Gang struck again, demanding that local officials hand over another $115-million subsidy.

Gratitude? Robbers don’t say thank you. They refill their fountain pens.

As Judd Legum reports in his excellent Substack report Popular Information, Bennett is now demanding $850 million from Oklahoma City taxpayers to build a glittery new basketball palace for him. Legum notes that this is about “$3,200 for every Oklahoma City household,” and that Bennett’s take will deplete the budget of about a dozen essential community projects.

He also has an inside accomplice: the mayor. Having taken Bennett’s cash to get elected, Mayor David Holt is now warning taxpayers to hand over millions to his rich banker buddy — or the Thunder will leave town.

So go! The thieving won’t stop until the people stop the thieves. Ship the whole herd of thundering thieves out of town, including Bennett and that pusillanimous mayor.

James Hightower is an American syndicated columnist, progressive political activist, and author.