LAMB ANNOUNCES ETHICS REFORM IN GOVERNMENT PLAN
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, November 30, 2017 –
Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today an ethics in government reform plan aimed at improving the efficiency, functionality and ethics of Oklahoma’s legislative and special election processes. In light of several special elections needed this year due to incumbents engaged in unethical and/or criminal behavior, and a special legislative session that has tested the trust and patience of Oklahoma’s citizenry, Lamb said reforms are needed to renew Oklahomans’ faith in their elected officials, and for state government to improve the manner in which it operates.
“A primary order of business is renewing the faith of voters in Oklahoma state government, and in their elected representatives,” Lamb said. “I believe fundamental reforms are desperately needed for Oklahoma taxpayers to be confident that their elected leaders are working for them, and not their own self-interest. There is a growing concern among Oklahomans that the state Capitol is in chaos, and that some members of the Legislature are too caught up in the politics of their positions rather than serving the best interest of their constituents.”
“My recommendations are the result of my service as a United States Secret Service agent, within the private sector, as a candidate, a state senator and lieutenant governor, as well as my experiences visiting with Oklahomans across all 77 counties. Nobody should undervalue the intense level of frustration Oklahoma voters of all ideologies, of all political persuasion and all socio-economic status feel at this time. Many of these proposals will be met with opposition from some legislators and lobbyists, however government is not about them. Government is about serving the people, and at this moment it is time to go above and beyond to restore Oklahomans’ faith in our state government.”
I. SPECIAL ELECTION/EARLY RESIGNATION A. Any legislator who resigns their seat before the end of their term will forgo any state retirement related to their term in elected office until the cost of the special election (with interest) to fill their unexpired term is repaid to the state. 1. Exceptions can be granted for extenuating personal situations at the time of resignation such as health or family crisis. 2. Exceptions will be granted for being called to military service. 3. Exceptions will be granted if voters elect a legislator to another office if the legislator is running for another office during their current term. B. Existing campaign funds (after any applicable Oklahoma Ethics Commission fines are paid) held by the campaign of a legislator who resigns mid-term will be transferred to the Oklahoma State Election Board to assist in offsetting the cost of special elections. C. Any legislator missing 40% or more floor votes one month or later into the regular legislative session will be expelled and the seat will become vacant and subject to special election laws. Exceptions will be granted for extenuating circumstances related to the health of the legislator and/or immediate family, as well as for missing votes related to military service or other similar professional duties or obligations. D. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission will determine the granting of any exceptions pursuant to the above proposals. “Resignation due to unethical and/or illegal behavior, or opportunity for personal gain, creates an undue hardship on taxpayers while leaving Oklahomans unrepresented. The simple fact is there should be a penalty for failing to meet a solemn obligation made to voters,” Lamb said.
II. SPECIAL SESSION REFORM A. Apply current restrictions on donations by lobbyists and lobbyist principals during regular session to any special legislative session. B. Per diem for qualifying legislators during a special stand alone legislative session will decrease by 20% per week during special session. For example, after two weeks of special session, per diem will be 60% of the normal rate, and after five weeks of special session, there will be no per diem. An exception will be granted should the stand alone special session be called as a result of an act of God or man-made disaster which would have been unforeseen during the regular legislative session. “Voters must have assurance that legislators are not living a lavish lifestyle at their expense, and especially during times when the Legislature is debating raising taxes on Oklahomans,” Lamb said.
III. SEXUAL HARASSMENT A. Required sexual harassment training for statewide and legislative elected officials to be conducted by the office of the Oklahoma Attorney General. B. Creation of a state ombudsman within the office of the Oklahoma Attorney General where those interacting with legislators or state employees can report concerns without fear of repercussions. C. Expulsion or resignation for sexual harassment will immediately result in loss of all state benefits, including retirement. “Little, if anything, sickens me more than hearing incidents of sexual harassment. They are even more appalling when they involve those who have been elected and exalted to positions of leadership. As a husband, and as the father of a young lady, this issue strikes at my core. We must stop this unacceptable behavior, which not only demeans individuals but undoubtedly discourages some of Oklahoma’s best and brightest from entering public service,” Lamb said.
IV. CAMPAIGN AND LOBBYING REFORMS A. Cooling-off period for elected officials and agency directors. Legislators, statewide elected officials and agency directors shall not assist or represent any private interest for compensation in a lobbying or consulting role on a matter that is the subject of legislative or executive action for a minimum of two years following the end of their state service, whether elected or appointed. For legislators, this change would affect all new terms in office. B. Institute quarterly random audits of a minimum percentage of all campaign and lobbyist filings and allow field investigations when there is a suspicion of a violation. Require Legislature to fund these efforts. C. During regular and/or special legislative session, require lobbyists to report expenditures to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission of gifts or meals exceeding $25 within two business days. “We must eliminate incentives and any perception that legislators and/or agency directors make decisions for their own personal gain instead of in the best interest of constituents and the state of Oklahoma,” Lamb said.
V. STATE CAPITOL CONDUCT A. Elimination of special legislative vehicle license tags. B. Enforcement of prohibition against consuming alcohol within the state Capitol. “There is no need for special legislative vehicle license tags, and alcohol consumption within the state Capitol is already prohibited. Both of these will lead to greater transparency in state government,” Lamb said.
VI. ENGAGEMENT OF STATE EMPLOYEES IN PROMOTING ETHICAL BEHAVIOR A. Create an ombudsman position within the office of the Oklahoma Attorney General where state employees can, with protection, expose corruption, report government waste and offer cost-saving ideas. This position will be paid by a portion of the cost savings generated from these efforts. B. Create non-cash Ethical Excellence Awards to recognize outstanding state employees who demonstrate ethical behavior. “We have to fundamentally change the culture within state government and we must be better stewards of taxpayer dollars. Empowering all state employees to be part of the solution can be a very powerful force,” Lamb said.