This Millennial Bro Is Running for Congress Using the Family Trust Fund

27-year-old Mike Turner takes getting help from your parents to new heights.

Congressional candidate Mike Turner with his motherFriends of Mike Turner's Facebook page

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Update 06/25/2014: Despite the fact Turner’s campaign and super PAC spent more than $800,000 on his run for Congress—his next closest competitor spent some $370,000—Turner captured just 14 percent of the primary vote and failed to make the runoff.

Lots of parents fret that their millennials will never fly the coop. But one mother may have hit on a novel way to boost her 27-year-old son’s career: finance his run for the US House of Representatives.

That young man, Mike Turner, is in a six-way Republican primary for Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district. And his campaign has taken getting help from your parents to new heights: A super-PAC that appears to be financed by his mom has paid for $225,693 worth of pro-Turner ads. Turner donated $375,000 to his own campaign—money earned partly from his stake in the family trucking business. And when Turner filed papers to run for Congress, he listed as his address his childhood home.

Not that Turner is loafing; like most millennials, he’s held plenty of part-time work. In 2013, he was elected to the Oklahoma House, where he became known for introducing a bill to ban all marriage in Oklahoma. That way, Turner explained, the state could prevent same-sex marriage without running afoul of the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional.

His campaign website describes him as an entrepreneur and a consultant to inventors and manufacturing startups—although it doesn’t identify any businesses he’s advised, and a Nexis search and a search of Oklahoma’s business entities failed to turn up any corporations in Turner’s name.

Turner’s campaign and super-PAC have outspent his nearest competitor by about $430,000 ahead of Tuesday’s primary. His competition includes Steve Russell, a former state senator and retired lieutenant colonel who led the search for Saddam Hussein and still insists that the US found weapons of mass destruction in the Iraq War.

Every dollar that the Democracy Values Fund, the super-PAC, has reported so far has come from Turner family sources. The majority of its funds, $125,000, come from a revocable trust in the name of Michele G. Turner.

Neither Turner’s campaign nor the super-PAC’s treasurer responded to requests for comment about Michele G. Turner’s relationship to Mike. A video released by Turner’s campaign features his mother, spelling her name Michelle Turner. However, a Nexis search for Mike Turner shows him living in a house purchased by Michele G. Turner and Jeffrey E. Turner in 1997—the same Edmond, Oklahoma, address Turner listed on his candidate filings. (Property tax records confirm that the house was recently owned by Michele and Jeffrey Turner.)

There is one way in which Turner stands out from the rest of the boomerang generation. Although he lists the Edmond home as his address, Turner isn’t exactly living in his childhood home—because he is now the house’s part-owner. The title for the 6,000-square-foot house, valued by Zillow at $1.1 million, was recently transferred to the Turner Family Trust and the Michael Jeffrey Turner Trust.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend