Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Addresses Limit on Campaign Contributions

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Addresses Limit on Campaign Contributions

Article excerpt

Most states do not restrict the amount of money a political party can contribute to campaigns for public office, Commissioner Helen Cole, Moore, told the Ethics Commission Friday.

"Most of the states have unlimited contributions," she said.

"That argument, that everybody else is doing it, has never been very persuasive with me," said Commissioner Ken Elliott, Oklahoma City. A study conducted by commission staff indicates that 24 states allow unlimited donations from political parties, some only at general elections. Most other states have limits much higher than Oklahoma's. Cole, a former state senator, is backing a proposal to increase Oklahoma's $5,000 limitation as follows: * $100,000 to a gubernatorial candidate. * $50,000 to a candidate for statewide elective office. * $25,000 to a candidate for the State Senate. * $10,000 to a candidate for state representative. Her recommendation would not change the $5,000 limit on individual or family contributions to political campaigns. The panel took no vote on the Cole proposal. Staff said Oklahoma Democratic Party Executive Director Pat Hall wants to study the idea but was unable to attend Friday's meeting. It was Hall who came to the commission in late October last year to ask whether it was legal for members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to state Republican candidates and political committees. Just days before the Nov. 3 general election, Hall said he wanted the issue clarified so that his party could do the same for Democrats running for office. Hall addressed the commission about published reports that U.S. Sen. Don Nickles' political action committee, the Republican Majority Fund, gave almost $125,000 to GOP candidates and committees in 1998; U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts' committee, the American Renewal PAC, gave a total of $18,500, and the Oklahoma Values Coalition, formed by U.S. Reps. Steve Largent and Tom Coburn, gave $34,000 to various candidates and a GOP committee. Largent also gave $15,000 to the state party out of his own campaign chest. Nickles' contributions included $10,500 to the state GOP party, $5,000 to the House Republican PAC and $10,000 to the Oklahoma Republican Senatorial Committee. …

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