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Ethics Commission Delays Action On "Educational" Gifts Reporting Requirements

Commissioner Tom Walker (Democrat, 4th Congressional District) Appointed in September 2011 by the Chief Justice Steven Taylor.
Oklahoma Ethics Commission

The Ethics Commission decided Friday to look at rewording a proposal concerning reporting of scholarships and payments for trips and conferences and to consider the revised language in January.

Commission Thomas Walker led the charge against the proposed Ethics Rules amendment, saying the language presented Friday would open a “Pandora’s box.”

“We are allowing interest groups of any stripe to lavish state officers and employees in the form of education with gifts…Unless that organization is registered in Oklahoma, the taxpayers, the voters, the public (and) the media will have no idea who is responsible. It could be sponsored entirely by dark money and even with our reporting requirements, there is no way the public would know,” said Walker.

The proposed amendment would permit a state officer or employee to “…accept a scholarship or similar grant or subsidy, including the costs of transportation, lodging, meals, refreshments, entertainment, instruction and material made available to other participants, to participate in an education or training event sponsored by a bona fide governmental, professional or business organization, provided the chief administrative officer of the agency that employs the state officer or employee certifies in writing to the Ethics Commission that the educational or training event will significantly assist the state officer or employee in discharging his or her duties.”

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