After 25 years of drafting and enforcing Oklahoma's ethics laws for politicians, candidate's campaigns, lobbyists and state employees, Marilyn Hughes is retiring.
Hughes, 63, was first appointed executive director of the Ethics Commission in 1987 and when the commission was revamped as a constitutional office in 1991, she made the switch to head the agency and oversee writing ethics regulations.
She announced her retirement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made with her family's input, adding “it's been a real honor to be here, but it's probably time for someone else.”
With the exception of a 5-month-stint under another director, Hughes has been the sole director of Oklahoma's ethics policy under an acting commission.
“I think getting the first set of rules approved, to where they took effect, was a huge accomplishment and done in a relatively short amount of time,” she said. “It was an accomplishment. It wasn't perfect work, but it got us going.”
Those first rules were drafted in 1994 and since then have been in constant evolution, she said.
The ethics commission itself hears complaints of violations of the ethics rules and can issue fines and other punishments as seen fit.
“I think it's noble work,” Hughes said. “I certainly wish the commission the best in continuing the work.”
Oklahoma is one of few states that have a “super commission” — one that oversees state offices, state employees, campaign finance and lobbyists, Hughes said.
“Where I go from here is maybe to a less stressful job,” she said.
She will be in office through the end of November, staying through the general elections.