Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Reynolds Says No to Free Meals

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Reynolds Says No to Free Meals

Article excerpt

An action by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission Friday has already drawn the attention of a legislator who wants it turned down. The rule would allow lobbyists to feed groups of legislators once per session without it counting toward their $100 aggregate limit and without reporting which lawmakers attended.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said he would file legislation to disapprove the rule. He said such activities help create a perception of corruption.

"I know the public already disapproves of lobbyist influence at the Capitol, and I am certain they do not want lobbyists to be allowed to purchase even more meals for legislators," he said. "There's no justifiable reason for a lobbyist to buy our meals."

The deadline for filing bills was Thursday. However, action on a measure to disapprove agency rules may occur any time during session. To be approved, Reynolds' proposal would have to be part of such an effort.

The amendment was requested by Commissioner Jo Pettigrew, McLoud.

At Friday's meeting, Pettigrew said that under her proposal, lobbyists would have to disclose how much they spend on the one- time meal for a political caucus, committee or subcommittee of either house. Current rules allow lobbyists to pay for food and beverages at events to which the entire Legislature is invited, exempting such spending from the definition of "things of value" for regulatory purposes. The exemption does not extend to smaller legislative groups.

"This opens up a lot more transparency," Pettigrew said.

Under current ethics rules, lobbyists do not have to report individual expenditures on lawmakers of less than $10. They report meal and other expenditures twice yearly, including the names of recipients, on forms filed with the commission.

Commissioner John Raley, Ponca City, objected to the change, asking Pettigrew whether she would consider a cap on spending for the one-time meal. …

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