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About the Oklahoma Ethics Commission
The Ethics Commission (the "Commission") was created by a two-to-one vote of the people of the state per an initiative effort adding Article XXIX to the Oklahoma Constitution ("Article XXIX"). The statewide vote on the amendment (State Question No. 627, Initiative Petition No.341) was held September 18, 1990. Commissioners were sworn in and began meeting in July 1991.
The Commission is made up of five private citizens, who serve without compensation. One each is appointed by the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Attorney General. No more than three can be of the same political party. No more than one congressional district may be represented at a time. The agency employs seven full-time staff members who administer the constitutional rules, the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act (the "Act"), and the rules to implement Article XXIX.
The Commission is charged, under Article XXIX, with promulgating rules of ethical conduct carrying civil penalties for: state officers and employees, campaigns for elective state office, and campaigns for state initiatives and referenda. It is further charged with investigating and prosecuting violations and recommending civil penalties for such in district court. The agency thus drafts the rules and has direct prosecutorial authority over them.
Under Article XXIX, the Commission promulgated rules are presented to the Governor and each House of the State Legislature on the second day of each legislative session. If not disapproved by joint resolution, subject to veto by the Governor during the legislative session for which the rules are submitted, they become effective. In the event the Governor vetoes a joint resolution disapproving the rules, the procedure is the same as for veto of any other bill or joint resolution.
Effective Ethics Commission Rules (the "Rules") are published in the official statutes of the State of Oklahoma (Section 257:1-1-1 et seq. of the Rules of the Ethics Commission, Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Chapter 62, Appendix). Effective rules may be repealed or modified by the Commission, subject to the same legislative and gubernatorial action as for newly promulgated rules. Effective Ethics Commission rules may also be repealed or modified by the Legislature under the same procedures.
The Commission is the repository for state and county campaign registrations/reports and personal financial disclosure statements, as well as state lobbying registrations and reports. It issues ethics interpretations (advisory opinions), and its staff issues informal opinions, on both the Rules and the Act. It also receives citizen information and investigates alleged violations of the Rules or the Act. Rule violations may be prosecuted by the Commission's general counsel in district court. Violations of the Act are referred to the appropriate prosecuting authority.
The Commission office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on all state holidays.
State of Oklahoma
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