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Oklahoma ethics panel reprimands OU doctor for accepting excessive speaking fees

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission issued a public reprimand for a University of Oklahoma doctor who received nearly $30,000 in speaking fees from a pharmaceutical company. The annual limit a state employee can receive from a company registered as a lobbyist principal with Oklahoma is $100.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm •  Published: April 28, 2012

UPDATE: Editor's Note -- After publication of this article on April 28, 2012 it was brought to our attention that a recommendation letter had been written in support of Dr. Laber. The letter indicates he left his position due to a lack of funding. The letter was not made available at the time of publication. The letter is attached here.

A doctor employed by the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa was publicly reprimanded Friday for receiving more than 200 times the annual limit from a company registered as a lobbying principal with the state.

Dr. Damian Laber said he was unaware of a $100 annual limit that a state employee can receive from lobbyist principals, or companies that hire lobbyists and provide money to buy things of value to influence state employees and legislators, according to the discipline report released by the state Ethics Commission.

The Ethics Commission voted unanimously during its meeting Friday for the public reprimand.

Laber was hired in August 2010 at the OU School of Community Medicine. His employment contract at OU is not being renewed, said OU spokeswoman Catherine Bishop.

“His employment at the university will end no later than June 30,” Bishop said. “The University of Oklahoma takes ethics guidelines very seriously, and it is the policy of the university to abide by all of those guidelines.”

Laber was accused of accepting $27,800 from the drug company Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Agency, according to the Ethics Commission complaint.

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