Friday, September 3, 2010

Ethics Commission Upholds PAC-to-PAC Ban Today; One Oklahoma Coalition Demands Yes On 744 Group Refund $1.74 Million Donation

The One Oklahoma Coalition today applauded the Ethics Commission’s decision to uphold existing state law and the ban on PAC-to-PAC contributions. As such, the group claims, it is clear the NEA Ballot Measures and Legislative Crisis Fund’s $1.74 million contribution to the Yes on 744 campaign is in violation of state law and must be refunded.

Sterling Zearly, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, said, “Just as executive director Marilyn Hughes directed our PAC to request a refund for our contribution to a state ballot committee, we fully expect her to do the same with the out-of-state PAC known as the NEA Ballot Measures and Legislative Crisis Fund.”

During the commission testimony today, both General Counsel Rebecca Adams, and Executive D
irector Marilyn Hughes, referred to the NEA contribution as being a PAC contribution.

Further, Marilyn Hughes specifically informed the commissioners that if they did not choose to change the rule, the Yes on 744 campaign would be in violation of state law.

This is in accordance with page 19 of Oklahoma’s Constitutional Ethics Rules detailing the definition of a political action committee as including groups supporting or opposing ballot measures. Because of this definition, the NEA ballot fund qualifies as a PAC.

Campaign Manager Jeff Wilson said, “The ethics commission’s decision to enforce existing state law is a victory for all Oklahomans whose elections are not going to be bought by out-of-state special interest groups.

“We were deeply troubled by Yes on 744 spokesperson Joel Robinson’s comments after the hearing today that regardless of the illegal nature of the campaign contribution the Yes on 744 campaign intends to spend the money instead of refunding it,” said Wilson.

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