Today the chairman of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission lashed out at the legislature for cutting the Ethics Commission budget during an economic recovery year.
In the past decade the State Auditor's department has been cut about 40%, under the same sort of turf wars with the legislature & governor.
"I am appalled," the Ethics Commission chairman, John C. Hawkins, wrote in an email sent Sunday to state senators and House members. "The retaliation on a state agency by cutting their budget for doing their job is unconscionable."
"How do you propose that we now open an investigation when you come to us with a breach of the rules?" Hawkins wrote legislators. "How do you propose that we protect the electorate from collusion on a mass scale to sway elections? How would you like for us to choose who receives education and help?"
The Ethics Commission next meets May 11 and may file a suit to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
"The Commission will now be forced to spend some of the meager resources it has to bring action against the Legislature to correct the funding mechanism," Hawkins' email said.
"In adding Article 29 to the state Constitution, the people require the Legislature to appropriate the Commission sufficient funds to enable it to perform its responsibilities under the law," Kemp wrote Wallace. "The Constitution is clear the appropriation must originate from the General Revenue Fund."
She also told Wallace, "As an agency director, I cannot lawfully expend funds received through what I believe is an unlawful process."
The Ethics Commission had requested $3,354,000 for fiscal year 2019 to carry out its existing duties.
Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, is chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. On Friday, he defended how the Ethics Commission will be funded.
"I do not believe that we have violated the Constitution in one way with this budget," Wallace said on the House floor during a long discussion of the overall state government spending bill.
"This is a darn good budget, best budget I've seen since I've been here," Wallace also said.
If the Ethics Commission prevails, the legislature may be called to yet another special session later this summer, to comply with whatever adjudication is prescribed.