A state senator denied an accusation Friday that he violated campaign reporting rules by raising and spending money on his re-election bid before forming a candidate committee for his Senate race.
Sen. Clark Jolley, involved in a heated Republican primary battle in Edmond, said money raised and spent for his Senate District 41 re-election bid was recorded in his Friends of Clark Jolley 2010 campaign committee he formed in November 2009 when he considered running for state attorney general. He changed the office being sought in the committee to undecided in April 2010.
“We complied with every one of the ethics laws in this state,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “The allegation makes it sound like I was out raising money without a campaign being open. No, we had one open.”
On March 31, he closed the Friends of Clark Jolley 2010 committee, and on April 1 he filed papers forming his Clark Jolley for Oklahoma Senate 2012 re-election committee. He transferred $217,361 from the Friends of Clark Jolley 2010 committee to the Senate re-election committee, according to a report filed with the Ethics Commission.
State law prohibits candidates from having two campaign committees open at the same time.
Bob Donohoo, of Edmond, filed a complaint Friday with the state Ethics Commission questioning whether Jolly should have filed his Senate campaign report sooner. Jolley formally announced his re-election bid March 1.
Donohoo said he had observed campaign ads by Jolley, but noticed Jolley didn't form his Senate campaign committee until April 1.
Campaign rules, most of which are enforced by the Ethics Commission, require a candidate to file a campaign committee within 10 days after spending or receiving $500. Donohoo said a fundraiser for Jolley was held Jan. 31.
Jolley waited until April to form his Senate committee because the three-day filing period for legislative offices was from April 11-13. He filed on April 11.
Candidates are to report their campaign receipts and expenditures for each quarter. The first quarter ended March 31; campaign reports were due April 30. The next campaign reports are due June 18, a week before the primary election.
Jolley said contributors before April 1 wrote checks made out to the Friends of Clark Jolley 2010 committee, and the money raised since April 2010, when he switched the office being sought from attorney general to undecided, can be used for his Senate re-election campaign.
Members of the Ethics Commission review complaints in closed session. Their next meeting is set for June 29.
Jolley is being opposed in the June 26 Republican primary by the Rev. Paul Blair, of Edmond. The winner will face independent Richard Prawdzienski, of Edmond, in the Nov. 6 general election.
At one time, the Ethics Commission had a gag rule that prohibited people from talking about complaints filed with the state agency. Its intent was to protect the reputations of falsely accused officials.
But the Ethics Commission decided in 2009 that it would no longer enforce the rule after it was alleged it violated free speech rights.