Â©Copyright 2010, The Oklahoman
Rep. Randy Terrill is returning money donated to his 2010 re-election campaign after learning of apparent campaign finance violations.
Terrill, R-Moore, has collected at least $5,000 for his 2010 campaign, but he hasn’t organized a campaign committee with the state Ethics Commission as required by law.
"The buck stops with me,” said Terrill, 40. "It should’ve been done.”
The discrepancy came to light after The Oklahoman
began scrutinizing a $5,000 donation Terrill received from a state labor organization Terrill is a member of and has supported with legislation.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association’s political action committee gave him a $5,000 check last year that was labeled "campaign contribution.” The check was made out to Terrill individually — not his campaign. Terrill deposited the check Oct. 21 in an account for his 2010 campaign, according to a bank deposit slip provided by Terrill.
State law requires candidates to register campaign committees with the Ethics Commission within 10 days of receiving $500 or more in donations. The Ethics Commission has no such record for Terrill’s 2010 campaign.
Ethics Commission Executive Director Marilyn Hughes would not comment on whether Terrill violated the state’s campaign finance laws.
Terrill described the discrepancy as "hyper-technical” and "a perfunctory paperwork problem.” He said his campaign issued a $5,000 cashier’s check last week to OPEA’s political action committee to refund the donation.
Terrill’s 2010 campaign already has spent money. He said the campaign bought candy to throw out to people at a Halloween parade in Moore and Christmas cards for a campaign mailing.
Hughes wouldn’t comment on whether those expenditures could complicate Terrill’s plan to return the money to avoid campaign finance violations.
"Things like that could come up before the commission, and I cannot make a public comment,” Hughes said.
Terrill is chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget subcommittee for Public Safety and Judiciary.
Over the limit
Political action committees and other campaign donors often issue checks to individual candidates rather than to their official campaign committee name. No law prevents the practice.
The confusion resulting from the Terrill donation has prompted OPEA to consider asking its political action committee to stop writing checks to individual candidates, OPEA Deputy Director Scott Barger said.
Because Terrill’s 2010 committee isn’t registered with the Ethics Commission, OPEA’s campaign finance report by default listed the $5,000 donation as given to Terrill’s 2008 campaign, which had earlier received the maximum $5,000 in donations from OPEA’s political action committee.