Monday, November 10, 2008

Ethics Commission

Why should our elected officials be allowed to accept one thin dime from a lobbyists? Our elected officials should not be allowed to have even a hamburger paid for by a lobbyists. They should never, under any circumstance, be allowed to accept a gift of any kind from a lobbyists. I have sold to Wal Mart the past 35 years and I have had numerous lunches and dinners with buyers, never in all that time did I buy a meal for one buyer. If my product was the right product, I received the business if not, I did not. If we are serious about cleaning up politics in Oklahoma then I hope the Ethics Commission shows some guts and takes a stand and stops all gifts and lunches.
The leaders of the House and Senate should take a stand and send out a letter to all lobbyist explaining that Christmas season is just around the corner and all elected officials are not allowed to accept gifts, including all assistants.

Oklahoma ethics rule could ban gifts from lobbyists
Comments 5
Published: November 10, 2008
A proposed rule to ban lobbyists in Oklahoma from buying dinners, expensive gifts or tickets to sporting events is similar to a measure that has worked well the past 14 years in Minnesota, an official from that state said.
Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, said the rule banning most gifts from lobbyists to state officials and employees is not difficult to enforce.
It took several years to get the Legislature to pass the rule prohibiting most gifts to the 201 legislators and about 2,300 state officials, board members and agency heads, he said. Legislative employees also are covered in the ban. An exception to the rule allows gifts such as a plaque with a resale value of $5 or less or a trinket or memento that costs $5 or less

A proposal has been submitted to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to prohibit lobbyists from giving "things of value” to state officers and state employees. It would outlaw state officers and state employees from receiving lobbyists’ gifts.
Goldsmith said lobbyists bought meals for legislators and brought in food for lunches or dinners during late-night sessions.
"That all ended, virtually instantly,” Goldsmith said. "There was a fairly traumatic change at that point that some lobbyists still complain about it. They say the camaraderie between legislators and the contact that lobbyists have has been diminished.”
The Ethics Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday in Ponca City’s City Hall on that proposal and several others. Commissioners will vote early next year on which proposals to pass on to legislators.
Earlier this year, commissioners approved a rule, which passed legislative review, reducing lobbyists’ spending on elected officials from $300 to $100 per calendar year. The rule requires lobbyists to disclose gifts after spending more than $10 on a state official or aide during each six-month period
Lobbyists had spent more than $208,000 on legislators in 2007, a 28 percent increase over the previous year, according to Ethics Commission records.
Bobby Stem, a lobbyist with the firm Capitol Gains, said he doesn’t oppose a ban.
"Our firm policy has been to keep those gifts to a minimum just so we can always avoid any hint of impropriety. We believe that it not only protects us at the firm but it protects the image of the members that we work with.”

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