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Proposed bill would force ousted lawmakers to pay for special elections

OKLAHOMA CITY – Over the past few years, several Oklahoma lawmakers have been forced to resign from their positions following scandals.

Now, an Oklahoma state senator is proposing a bill that would protect taxpayers in the aftermath of those scandals.

Senate Bill 363 requires any state senator or representative who resigns, is removed from office or is expelled to pay for the remaining balance of their campaign fund to offset the costs of a special election.

“The number of elected officials who have left office before completing their terms has created a financial burden for the state,” said Sen. Sharp. “Special elections are expensive and the taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with that cost.”

Sharp says he respects people’s career choices, but wants legislators to be held accountable for the oath they make to their constituents to serve out their full term.

Since 2013, a total of 14 special elections have been held. The nine special elections in 2017 and 2018 cost Oklahoma taxpayers more than $250,000.

“Why should Oklahoma taxpayers pick up the bill because someone decides mid-term to pursue another job or, as has been the case recently, are removed from office because they committed a crime?” said Sharp.  “I understand people have to do what’s best for their families when it comes to career decisions but when they leave they should have to give their remaining campaign funds to the Election Board to help pay for the resulting special election. It’s just common courtesy. And if they commit a crime, they should definitely have to forfeit their campaign funds to the Election Board. That is just common sense.”

Officials say SB 363 would not apply to members who pass away while serving in office.

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