The Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s rule against electioneering reads as follows: “A person shall not use or authorize the use of public funds, property, or time to produce, print, publish, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate material designed or timed to influence the results of an election for state office or a ballot measure, except political activities or statements inherent to or part of the function of a candidate or an elected officer or the performance of a state officer’s or state employee’s duties or as allowed by law, regardless of the lack of specific reference to the election.” Got that? John Miley says he does.
Miley is general counsel for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. His wife is Noma Gurich, a justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In early October, Miley sent an email — during working hours, using his state email account — to 126 state agency legal advisers urging them to push for the retention of state appellate judges, including his wife.
Miley says he didn’t break any ethics laws, in part because a retention ballot is “not an election at all.” He also says he would do things differently next time.
Miley seems to understand that, although the commission’s rules can leave one dazed and confused, he should have known better.