The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill 2055, by State Representatives John Trebilcock and Lucky Lamons, which would prohibit lobbyist contributions to state lawmakers during the legislative session.
The authors said the measure was aimed at curtailing lobbyists’ influence by eliminating vote-buying.
After both lawmakers saw individual efforts to eliminate the practice thwarted in recent years they teamed up with the hope that a bipartisan attempt at campaign finance reform would be successful.
“We have to remove the veil of impropriety that lobbying has placed on the legislative process,” said Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow. “We have to send the message that Oklahoma lawmakers are not for sale.”
The ban on contributions would apply to any member of the Oklahoma Legislature, any candidate committee or legislative caucus. Contributions made during the legislative session to a lawmaker from individuals residing in the lawmaker’s home district would still be permissible under HB 2055.
Violations of the proposed law would result in misdemeanor charges. Those convicted could be forced to pay damages to the state in an amount triple the value of the unlawful contribution.
“There is definitely a perception that lawmakers are doing what is best for them rather than what is best for the people of this state,” said Lamons, D-Tulsa. “When the Legislature is not in session, go ahead and campaign and raise money; but the legislative session is for doing the people’s work. It shouldn’t be about the business of politics.”
HB 2055 passed in the House by a vote of 86-3 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The authors expect the bill will continue to be refined and improved as it works its way through the legislative process.
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