An Oklahoma City attorney who served nearly 20 years overseeing Oklahoma's elections was named Friday to be the executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
Lee Slater, 69, will start his new duties Feb. 1 on a part-time basis to help him close down his law practice. His annual salary will be $120,000 once he works for the agency full-time, which is to occur by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Slater, whose legal specialty is campaign finance and lobbyist regulations, succeeds Marilyn Hughes, who retired late last year after serving 25 years heading up the Ethics Commission, which writes civil penalty rules governing state campaigns and the conduct of state officers and employees. Slater also was hired to do legal work the past 20 years for the state Senate.
Slater was among about 40 applicants and four finalists for the post, commission Chairman Jo Pettigrew said. All four finalists were from Oklahoma.
“We all know of Mr. Slater's abilities,” Pettigrew said. “With Mr. Slater, you don't have the learning curve that you have with a lot of others. He is one of the foremost experts on ethics rules and laws in the state of Oklahoma without a doubt. He's been attending these meetings …. and working with the Ethics Commission for 20 years.”
His knowledge of how the process works in the state Capitol also is helpful, she said.
“He has worked with an agency — the Election Board — (and) has been secretary of the Senate,” Pettigrew said. “So he brings great knowledge about how the Legislature works and how state government works.”
Slater said he decided to return to state government because it is a challenge.
“The commission is planning to undertake a new direction,” he said. “They intend to take a look at their rules and see if they can be streamlined, made easier to understand, easier to comply with.”
Slater worked at newspapers in Clinton, Mangum and Edmond before being hired to head the agency that oversees state elections.