[Oklahoma City, OK, June 23, 2015] – Connie Johnson, Vice-chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party and former candidate for the United States Senate, has filed a request for an ethics opinion regarding Governor Fallin’s travel to Europe during June of 2015. The ethics request seeks to determine the propriety of a private organization, believed to be the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, paying the expenses for the Governor and her spouse for such a trip.
“If this kind of private gift is allowed,” Mark Hammons, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said, “it would be a tremendous loophole in our ethics laws.” Hammons also stated such payments from private organizations would appear to violate the Oklahoma Constitution’s oath of office which states:
“I ……, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as …… to the best of my ability.” Oklahoma Constitution Article XV, § 1.
If Governor Fallin was representing the State of Oklahoma on this trip, then such payment by a private group would appear to be money for the performance of an act or duty pertaining to her office.
Given the tragic conditions occurring in Oklahoma during the flooding, with loss of life and property, the Governor’s absence should not be induced by a gift from a private organization.
Oklahoma taxpayers need to be told who was in charge of the state’s Executive Branch while the Governor was in Paris. Lieutenant Governor Lamb was not visible at any disaster site or coordinating any of the emergency readiness, preparation, or prevention activities. None of the Republican leadership or Republican appointed agency heads appeared to be working to coordinate the essential relief actions or engaging in preparation or prevention efforts. Who stepped up to fill the void in leadership arising fro the Governor’s absence?
Hammons said, “It appears that the governor is out of touch with working Oklahomans. She was not one of us and not with us at our time of need.”