Lawmaker introducing transparency bill to close a legal loophole

OKLAHOMA CITY – A local senator say he has filed a bill that could close a loophole in an existing transparency law.

It’s something he says several Oklahoma lawmakers have wanted to call attention to for years.

Currently, some legislators act as consultants for private companies and are paid to give them political advice.

SB 1171 calls for transparency on the amount of money a lawmaker makes doing that.

The bill is authored by Oklahoma Sen. Josh Brecheen.

He’s tried to gain traction on this same bill for years but has failed in the past.

Brecheen did not want to make any comments out of fear of retaliation, however, others in support of the bill did speak on the issue.

Rep. Richard Morrissette thinks the bill has been a long time coming.

He says when you vote an official into office, it’s hard to know who’s influencing them.

However, he believes this bill will change that.

Morrissette says, “If somebody is in the legislature and they’re working for an entity as a so-called consultant, which is a buzz word for inside guy, then the public needs to know that.”

Morrissette and Brecheen also say this bill closes a loophole.

Right now, current law states a lawmaker’s private income must be disclosed.

However, the language focuses on full-time employment, rather than any consulting work on the side.

Morrissette says, “Obviously, you have information about the legislature, about politics that is real important to people trying to affect legislation and outcomes of legislation.”

He says it’s one attempt of many to address the temptation of a lawmaker to serve a private company’s interest rather than the interests of voters.

“Not saying that’s illegal,” says Morrissette. “We’re saying the public needs to know what’s going on.”

The state ethics commission has confirmed that there is not a law that requires that level of disclosure.