State Ethics Agency Fails to Collect Most Fees
By: M. SCOTT CARTER, Oklahoma Watch

The state agency that enforces campaign-finance rules has failed to collect a large majority of late-filing fees from political groups and candidates and this year stopped assessing the fees altogether, according to state records and interviews.

Delinquent Payers Vary Widely
As of early 2014, candidates, their campaigns and other organizations owed the Oklahoma Ethics Commission more than $200,000 in unpaid fees for late or no filing of statements of income and spending, commission records show. Many fees probably won’t ever be collected because of a lack of resources, the commission’s executive director said.

The commission decided to stop assessing late fees this year partly because it needed to establish new rules for imposing fees. Dozens of political groups and campaigns in the 2014 election failed to meet deadlines for filing their statements, commission records show.

From 1990 to 2011, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission assessed $942,504 in late-filing fees and collected $394,553 of those, or about 42 percent. During that time, the commission wrote off $453,363 in late fees, leaving about $93,558 past due.

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