The Oklahoma State Capitol (File photo)

Oklahoma lawmakers will be returning to the State Capitol soon under a new spotlight for potential conflicts of interest.

Earlier this year, Rep. Terry O’Donnell, the No. 2 ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, announced on Jan. 6 that he is resigning his leadership post under indictment alleging his 2019 vote cleared the way for his wife to later run a Catoosa tag agency.

Like other states, Oklahoma bans lawmakers from profiting while in office from votes they cast.

Under state law, a conflict of interest exists when a lawmaker or other state employee engages in activities or has interests that “conflict with the proper discharge of their duties and responsibilities.”

Oklahoma also requires lawmakers, judges and statewide elected officials to list their “material financial interest” each year.

Specifically, the state’s financial disclosure forms ask officeholders to list their stakes — or those of dependents or spouses — in private business, investments worth more than $20,000, ownership of more than 5% or $50,000 in a publicly-traded company, and income of more than $20,000 beyond officeholder pay. 

The form contains less information required for disclosure by the federal government and many other states. Oklahoma officials are not required to list their exact compensation or even ranges of compensation.

But the purpose of the forms is to allow voters and others to decide if state officials are using their position for private gain.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission makes these documents available to the public upon request. The information is not hosted on any public state website.

Oklahoma Watch previously posted these disclosures in the interest of transparency. This is the first time the financial material holdings (and descriptions of the holdings) are accessible in a searchable table.

We plan on updating our chart following the May 15 deadline to file the 2021 reports and to later include other state officials. To report a bug or error, or to provide more information or tips, email tbrown@oklahomawatch.org.

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