Report: Oklahoma Lawmakers Eating Well On Lobbyist’s Dime

Tuesday, May 24th 2022, 6:10 pm


A nonpartisan political group is calling out lawmakers for eating thousands of dollars of free meals with lobbyists footing the bill.

The group Clean Up Oklahoma compiled the information from public ethics reports.

“You have to wonder what’s being discussed at those $300 and $400 and $500 meals and what the ask is at the end of them,” Clean Up Oklahoma chair Cindy Alexander said.

Coming in at the top of the list of recipients is the lawmaker who worked to designate the Ribeye as the official state steak in 2019, Rep. Casey Murdock, R-Felt.

According to the report, Murdock received $7,754 worth of meals in 2021 through May 2022, including a single tab just $3 shy of the $500 legal limit for free meals.

On the other side of the aisle, Clean Up Oklahoma reports Rep Ajay Pittman, D-OKC, enjoyed $3,165 worth of free meals from lobbyists.

The chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees both ranked in the top four gift recipients at more than $6,000 of free meals apiece.

"Being budget chairman requires meetings with statewide stakeholders from morning to night, sometimes over meals transparently reported for the public to see unlike whatever funding is behind this misleading report published by a secretive organization who, if they're honest, should disclose their funders if they are truly for transparency," House Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, said.

“We'll be releasing a report at the end of June with the ethics commission, and everyone will be able to see where our money comes from,” Alexander said. “And as far as in makeup, of the leadership, there are Republicans and Democrats in the leadership of this group.”

Last and least, according to the report, Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, is the only lawmaker who hasn't had a single free meal reported over the past two years.

News 9 reached out to each of the lawmakers named in this story but only heard back from Wallace.

Clean Up Oklahoma said more than 100 lawmakers have taken $300 and $400 gifts from lobbyists since January 2021.