House Speaker Pro Tem-elect Mike Jackson, R-Enid, is under fire because he raised money for a political action committee that provided $11,000 to Republican candidates in the final days of this year's election. Critics claim this gives the appearance of buying leadership votes from fellow lawmakers, but that seems a stretch. It would be odd if a prospective state House leader weren't actively working to elect more Republicans.
What's truly shocking about “A Positive Solution” PAC is the fact that no one involved with it filed any legally required reports for more than two years. That reflects poorly on Jackson and others involved, but it also suggests incompetence by officials with the state Ethics Commission, which is supposed to police campaign donations.
The commission has a dual mission: to monitor campaign finance documentation and therefore ensure public transparency and to investigate alleged ethical violations of elected officials. Recent events suggest that it's failing on both fronts.
Earlier this year, the commission voted to reprimand Department of Human Services' board member Steven Dow for doing unpaid work for a nonprofit agency that offered some services subsidized by DHS. Dow stepped down. Then the agency reversed course and withdrew its reprimand, making the whole thing a farce that benefitted no one.
That fiasco did much to undermine public confidence in the agency's competence in investigating alleged ethics complaints. Now the Ethics Commission's failure to notice that a PAC hadn't filed contribution reports for years, even as candidates got donations from it, suggests the commission's oversight of campaign finance is also amateurish.
This is the same agency that asked for a budget increase in 2008 to cover basic supplies and then used the money to instead provide 30 percent pay raises to some staffers. Based on recent job performance, Oklahoma taxpayers should demand a refund.