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Oklahoma lobbyists criticizing proposed ‘no gifts’ rule

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: December 12, 2008 at 4:23 am •  Published: December 12, 2008
A proposed rule to ban lobbyists in Oklahoma from buying expensive gifts or meals for state officials and employees lost some support Thursday while another proposal for a voluntary "no gifts” rule picked up a sponsor.

State Ethics Commissioner Don Bingham said he wanted to see what effect a new rule that reduced the amount of "things of value” lobbyists may give to elected officials and employees every year would have before adopting another rule.

Since July 1, lobbyists no longer are allowed to spend more than $100 during a calendar year on meals, tickets or gifts for each elected official or state employee.

The previous annual limit was $300.

It also requires lobbyists to disclose gifts after spending more than $10 during each six-month period. Lobbyists previously were required to report gifts of $50 or more.

Lobbyists file spending reports twice a year. The first reports since the new rule took effect will be filed next month.

The ‘zero amendment’
The so-called "zero amendment” would prohibit lobbyists from giving things of value to state officials and state employees. No commissioner has agreed yet to sponsor it, the first step before it can advance next month.

John Wood, who proposed the rule and a member of the board of Common Cause Oklahoma, said 21 exceptions listed in Ethics Commission rules would remain in effect if the proposal would pass.