January 6, 2015 •
Oklahoma’s Revised Constitutional Ethics Rules
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s newly promulgated Revised Constitutional Ethics Rules, effective at staggered intervals, significantly amend lobbying and campaign finance laws. Lobbyist registration provisions were effective December 1. Rules outlining lobbyist reporting due dates are effective February 1, 2015. All other revised rules were effective January 1, 2015. Except as may otherwise be provided, all current rules under Title 74, Chapter 62-Appendix, of the Oklahoma Statutes were repealed on January 1, 2015. O.S. §257:23-1-2, as it pertains to lobbyist reporting requirements, will remain effective until January 31, 2015.
Lobbyists were required to register online in December for calendar year 2015. There are now separate registration requirements dependent upon whether a lobbyist is a legislative lobbyist, executive lobbyist, or legislative liaison. Legislative lobbyists and legislative liaisons will be required to file monthly reports from February to July; executive lobbyists will file quarterly reports.
The revised rules also place new limits on lobbyist expenditures. Each lobbyist will be permitted to spend up to $500 per calendar year for meals for the governor, a legislator, or their staff. Moreover, lobbyists may spend up to $200 per year on certain gifts other than meals, provided the total for all meals and gifts does not exceed $500. New provisions also allow lobbyist principals to provide food and beverage for professional conferences, seminars, and similar events held outside the geographical boundaries of the state, subject to certain restrictions.
Changes to campaign finance laws include a new registration threshold for political action committees (PACs), new campaign contribution limits, specific reporting for out-of-state and federal PACs, and amendments to some reporting requirements. A PAC will be required to register within 10 days of receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000. Certain contribution limits will increase and family contribution limits will no longer exist. Limited PACs registered for less than a year or that have fewer than 25 contributors will be permitted to contribute only half the amount of other limited PACs.
This article provides a summary of the major changes to the Revised Constitutional Ethics Rules. It is not exhaustive and additional changes have been made. A final annotated version of the rules is accessible on the new Ethics Commission website at http://www.ok.gov/ethics/.
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