New ethics rules take effect Tuesday

Monday, June 30th 2008, 10:24 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

State campaign finance rules officially change Tuesday, meaning the $200,000 spent last year by lobbyists is a thing of the past.

Marilyn Hughes, a member of the state's Ethics Commission, said according to the new rules, lobbyists can no longer give lawmakers gifts costing more than $100.

In the past, some lobbyists paid up to $300 to help lawmakers get season tickets to Sooner and Cowboy football.

"You won't see the $200 dinners, or the season tickets," Hughes said.

The committee also intends to change money transfers involving political action committees, or PACs.

"We were seeing the money shuffled around to where you forgot who gave the original contribution," Hughes said.

Shuffling money through PACs meant big money donors could give campaigns more than $5,000 allowed by law.

Although lawmakers said they would outlaw the practice of shuffling, no change took place until the Ethics Commission stepped in.

News 9's legal analyst Scott Mitchell said lawmakers won't try derailing the reform.

"Even if it's a bad ethics bill, you'd better be for it, because your opponent is going to say you voted against ethics," Mitchell said.

Although the rules change Tuesday, lawmakers could still attempt to override the ethics rules after the election.

"I never try to predict what the legislators are going to do," Hughes said.

Along with the above rules, lobbyists will also have to disclose gifts costing $10 or more, whereas previous to the change, the disclosure was mandatory for gifts valued at $50 or more.

When the new rules take place, Oklahoma will be the first state to ban PAC to PAC money transfers.