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Oklahoma Ethics Commission proposes blackout period on complaints

Oklahoma legislators will be asked to consider a rule that would prohibit complaints being filed against candidates from the April filing period to the November general election. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission recommended the rule on Friday.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: January 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

No complaints alleging ethical or campaign violations could be filed against legislative, state or judicial candidates several months before the November general election, according to a rule recommended for approval Friday by the state Ethics Commission.

The rule is intended to prevent unsubstantiated complaints from influencing elections.

Under the proposal, no complaints could be filed in even-numbered years between the candidate filing period in April and the November general election.

Lawmakers will take up the proposal during the legislative session that gets under way Feb. 4.

They may only vote down the proposal, but the governor could veto that action. The proposal would take effect if legislators take no action.

The rule allows the commission to expose frivolous complaints and identify the people who file them.

Commissioner Karen Long said complaints have been filed “to embarrass and humiliate somebody else for no good reason.”

“Our rules have been misused,” she said.

Commissioners expressed concern last year when several ethics complaints were filed in the days before the June 26 primary. Ethics Commission members and staff are prohibited from commenting on complaints, and commissioners, who meet monthly, are hard pressed to take action on complaints filed a month before an election.

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