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No decision reached in filling Oklahoma Ethics Commission post

Members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission interview four finalists in closed session. A state lawmaker tried unsuccessfully to be allowed to attend the executive session.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: November 28, 2012

Members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission will try again next month to fill the agency's top spot.

Commissioners interviewed four finalists, each of them attorneys, over four hours in closed session Tuesday for the executive director's position. Chairman Jo Pettigrew said commissioners couldn't reach a decision after meeting for another hour.

They are scheduled to resume discussions Dec. 14.

“We had four excellent interviews, all outstanding candidates,” Pettigrew said. “We did thoroughly vet them. … We need to just check out a few other little details and think about some things.”

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, was thwarted Tuesday in his attempt to join commissioners in the closed session. Reynolds cited a section of the state's Open Meeting Act that allows a lawmaker who is on a committee that has jurisdiction over a state agency to attend its executive sessions. He is a member of the House of Representatives Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, which reviews rules of all state agencies.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader said an earlier attorney general's opinion on a school board meeting states a committee member didn't have the right to be present during hiring and firing discussions because it was difficult to envision a committee member having jurisdiction over personnel matters.

“The whole purpose of the executive session is to have some confidentiality,” Leader said.

All four finalists for the executive director's post are from Oklahoma. The last day for Marilyn Hughes, the agency's executive director for 25 years, is Friday.

“Merry Christmas everyone, it's been a pleasure working with you,” Hughes said at the end of Tuesday's meeting.

With the agency's general counsel, Rebecca Adams, who held the post 21 years, and its longtime investigator, Darey Roberts, also leaving Friday, commissioners put Suzi Bryan, the Ethics Commission's principal assistant, in charge of the office as of Saturday. She will be one of two employees still on staff after Friday.

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We had four excellent interviews, all outstanding candidates. We did thoroughly vet them. … We need to just check out a few other little details and think about some things.”

Jo Pettigrew,
Oklahoma Ethics Commission chairman


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