Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law this week a bill requiring most local candidates to tell the public who finances their campaigns.
Senate Bill 1745 also requires local candidates and elected officials to publicly disclose the sources of their incomes.
SB 1745 requires local candidates to follow the state Ethics Commission’s rules for statewide candidates.
The law takes effect Jan. 1.
Referred to as the Local Government Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure Act, SB 1745 emphasizes that the conduct of campaigns for county, municipal, technology center district and independent school district elections “is a matter of statewide concern.”
“For the citizens of this state to be adequately informed regarding possible conflicts of interest, financial disclosure by candidates, elected officials and other officials of certain county and municipal governments is necessary,” according to the bill.
The requirements apply to elected officials and candidates for:
- Countywide offices;
- Municipal offices in towns with a population of more than 10,000 and a general fund expenditure budget of more than $10 million in the fiscal year in which the municipal election is held; and
- All technology center districts and independent school districts.
Each candidate will be required to create a campaign committee. Each political committee will be required to file a statement of organization.
Campaign committees and political committees will be required to file contribution and expenditure reports that would be public records.
Financial disclosure statements will have to be filed by all local candidates and elected officials. Those public records will have to be maintained for four years.
An earlier version of the bill also would have required financial disclosure statements from school superintendents and district department heads “who have independent authority to make purchases.”
A specially created division of the state Ethics Commission will enforce the financial disclosure and campaign finance reporting requirements. Its annual operating fund will consist of continuing state appropriations, late filing fees, fines from settlement agreements and fines assessed by district courts for violations of the statute. Any funds of more than $150,000 will be transferred to the state General Revenue Fund. Enforcement of the statute will halt when the operating fund falls below $100,000.
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.