Steele Forming Oklahoma House Ethics Committee

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma House of Representatives will have a standing committee to develop ethics standards for members and evaluate questions of ethics in legislative business, its Republican leader announced this week.

House Speaker Kris Steele on Tuesday said he created the House Ethics Committee to allow lawmakers to have ethical discussions in a consistent manner.

"Forming this committee is a clear signal that the House of Representatives is serious about maintaining its obligation to preserving public confidence in government," Steele, R-Shawnee, said. "Thoughtful discussion and action on ethics issues is always worthwhile for those of us in government."

Steele said the committee was part of a list of recommendations made by the special House investigative committee charged with investigating the conduct of state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore.

"Many other states and Congress have committees just like this. If other states can do this well, so can Oklahoma," Steele said. "Given the House's constitutional obligation to oversee the conduct of its members, this committee is a way to further show our commitment to upholding our state Constitution and to ethical behavior."

He said both chambers of the federal government and 39 states have some form of a legislative ethics committee charged with handling questions of ethics and overseeing conduct of members in a particular legislative chamber.

Steele said the committee would be different from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, a constitutional entity comprised of appointed commissioners and professional staff members who formulate and oversee compliance of ethics rules for campaigns, lobbying and elected officials. …