OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A rule to ban expensive gifts to legislators died Friday at a meeting of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, which also backed off a strong public disclosure rule on campaign expenditures.
Commission Chairman John Raley’s proposal to ban gifts such as expensive meals and concert and athletic tickets died for lack of a second.
Raley said he was offended by lawmakers getting costly tickets to rock concerts and sports games under the guise of conducting public business.
He and other commissioners, however, said they were pleased about recent lobbyist reports showing spending on lawmakers had dropped from about $80,000 to about $7,000 for a six-month period.
The decline came after a rule went into effect in July reducing from $300 to $100 the amount a lobbyist can spend on legislators during the calendar year.
Raley, a Ponca City attorney, sponsored the rule change to further restrict gifts to lawmakers. His plan would have ended lobbyist expenditures on such things as expensive meals, concert tickets and athletic events.
Commission member James W. Loy of Chickasha said a large part of the public remains concerned about gift-giving to lawmakers.
Commissioners did not vote on Raley’s plan to have the commission staff establish a “no gifts list,” where lawmakers could inform lobbyists that they do not accept gifts.
Commissioner Don Bingham of Tulsa said he felt the proposed rule “crosses the line” on what the commission’s role should be.
The “no gifts list” rule was suggested by John Wood, political professor at Rose State College, who noted the same idea has been proposed in legislation by Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie.
Raley also wanted a rule to increase information available about campaign expenditures over $50.
Commission member Jo Pettigrew of McLoud, drawing support from Bingham, proposed to raise that threshold to $1,000 a calendar y ear.
Pettigrew’s idea was approved on a second vote. The rule will require the names of vendors to be disclosed if the campaign expenditure hits $1,000.
Ethics rules do not now require disclosure of the person or company to which a campaign expenditure is made.
Under the latest Federal Election Commission rules, expenditures of any size are itemized and vendors are named.
Previous rules required such disclosure for expenditures of $200 or more, five times less than the requirement in the new Oklahoma ethics rule.
Pettigrew said she did not want to overburden candidates for state or legislative offices.
Raley initially fought the $1,000 threshold, saying it was “too extreme.”
The rules adopted by the commission will go into effect on July 1 unless rejected.