Oklahoma ethics panel fails to police campaigns

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: November 20, 2012
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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.

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