A term-limited state senator and law professor are seeking to fill a vacancy on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. 

The three-member body is tasked with regulating oil and gas drilling, along with utility and telecommunications companies operating in Oklahoma. Commissioners are elected to six-year terms.

The corporation commission drew criticism in January when it voted 2-1 to pass onto consumers a $1.37 billion natural gas bill accumulated during the February 2021 winter storm. Through a process called securitization, Oklahoma consumers will pay up to $10.04 per month over the next 25 years to cover the bill. Outgoing commissioner Dana Murphy voted yes on the plan. 

While state ethics rules bar corporation commissioners from having a personal or financial interest in the utility companies they regulate, the corporations are regular contributors to political campaigns. An Oklahoma Watch and Floodlight News investigation in January found commissioners received more than $200,000 in contributions from the employees or political action committees tied to the companies they regulate.  

Here’s a brief breakdown of the candidates and issues they’re running on: 

The Candidates

Democrat Warigia Margaret Bowman, associate professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law. 

Republican Kim David, term-limited state senator for Senate District 18. Owner of Sweetgum Properties, Inc. 

Independent Don Underwood. Underwood does not have a publicly accessible campaign website or social media page. 

What They’re Running On

Bowman touts her legal background, saying she has the experience necessary to challenge powerful energy companies. She also says she would work to modernize Oklahoma’s electrical grid and expand rural broadband access.  

David describes herself as a conservative leader with experience working across government agencies. During a June primary candidate debate, she said she would support requiring utility companies to submit updated disaster contingency plans. 

For More Information

Bowman: Campaign website, Facebook page

David: Campaign website, Facebook page

As always, I’m reachable on Twitter or at Kross@Oklahomawatch.org for story tips, suggestions or comments.

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What I’m Reading This Week

Missing People, Buried Bones at Center of Oklahoma Mystery: Several people have disappeared in recent years from the wooded, unincorporated terrain outside the Oklahoma City metro area, a rural haven for drug traffickers. Some families said they’re scared to call police because they suspect the involvement of violent white-supremacist prison gangs. [The Washington Post]

Oklahoma Liquor Law Expansion Contemplated: A Walmart lobbyist and representatives from other retailers may seek to change state law to allow liquor to be sold in grocery stores. [Tulsa World]

Panel Recommends Expanding Medicaid to Help Low-Income Pregnant Women:  A task force the governor created after the state banned abortions in most circumstances is recommending extending postpartum care for those on Medicaid to 12 months from the current 60 days. [Tulsa World]

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Note: This story was updated to clarify that corporation commissioners cannot directly accept campaign contributions from the companies they regulate. The most recent estimated winter storm payback rate was also updated. 

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