By Lou Anne Wolfe Journal Record Staff Reporter An Oklahoma
Department of Commerce study on how proposed state government
ethics rules might work a hardship on the agency is partially
off-base, according to a response memorandum released Thursday by
the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
The commerce department published an analysis that showed
certain cases where it said the proposed rules could hamper its
ability to conduct business.
Legislation concerning the proposed ethics rules is set to be
considered by a joint House-Senate conference committee, beginning
The commerce analysis stated concern about the definitions of
"lobbyist principal" and "organization," as used in the rules.
Other commerce concerns involved a rule to forbid disclosure of
certain confidential state information; a requirement to report all
gifts received, down to a key chain or T-shirt; and the
impossibility of tracing an Oklahoma business connection in some
instances involving foreign corporations.
The ethics commission response, which included a cover letter
signed by Executive Director Marilyn Hughes, said the rules define
"lobbyist principal" as the entity in whose behalf a registered
lobbyist influences or attempts to influence legislative or
The report said the commerce department mistakenly used a
broader definition that would have been more confusing.
"The commission's staff publishes a monthly sheet of lobbyist
principals," organized by employers and by names of the lobbyists,
the report said.
"Hence, a brief look at these will make clear who falls within
the purview of the proposed rules," the report said.
The commerce analysis contended that the term "organization" in
the rules could mean a vast array of affiliations a person might
The commission report, however, said the rules use the
definition contained in state law, which is shorter and more
specific than the definition the commerce department based its
Commenting on some terms contained in the rules that the
commerce department took issue with, the report said: ". . .one is
adapted from current law, one has been defined by DOC outside the
rules, one is a broad misstatement of the rule definition and one
is an attempt to evenly apply the law." The report said it was
"apparent that many of DOC's criticisms pertain to conditions which
are created by existing laws" enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature,
rather than the commission. The report said those arguments had
nothing to do with the proposed rules.
"If agency practices or proposed practices would violate
current law, such certainly bear reviewing," the report said.
The commission report also addressed certain scenarios
described by the commerce analysis to give examples of problems the
rules could cause.
The commerce memo said reporting requirements in the ethics
rules would force commerce business recruiters to display a
regulatory, bureaucratic attitude, which would be misunderstood or
offensive to foreign cultures. The behavior would appear
anti-business to national business leaders seeking to locate in
Oklahoma, the commerce memo said. …