Just two weeks after our friends at the Tulsa World looked at the financial disclosure forms of state politicians, the watchdog group Center for Public Integrity issued its latest state rankings on the subject.
In the latest rankings, Oklahoma joins 19 other states with failing grades. The surprise, at least to me, is that Louisiana topped the rankings. I guess all those scandals in years past have led to some real reform in the Bayou State. Washington and Hawaii were the only other states to earn an “A.”
Here in Oklahoma, the state Ethics Commission has done a pretty good job of putting campaign finances online. And we’ve compiled their lobbyist gift data into our own searchable database. But the personal financial disclosure forms of elected officials remain stuck on paper in the commission’s files in the basement of the Capitol.
However, the Legislature has turned down Ethics Commission requests for increased funding to place the reports online in a searchable format, Hughes said.
Additionally, Hughes said an estimated 4,800 disclosure statements are filed with her office. The statements include income and asset data for agency heads, deputy directors and certain state employees in addition to lawmakers and other elected officials. Members of the public serving on certain boards fill out a similar form. Placing all the filings online would require hiring additional staff, Hughes said.
Hughes said her office attempted to add more stringent reporting requirements for financial disclosure, but such rule changes have been turned down by the Legislature. The current level of financial disclosure essentially remains the same as it was when the law was enacted about 1978 by the Legislature, she said.
Luckily, the World has taken the time to input the information from the forms of the 149 state legislators in Oklahoma. You can check out their database here.
Written by Paul Monies