Negative television commercials paid for by a Texas-based group against Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland have prompted Attorney General Drew Edmondson to call for a new ethics rule.
Edmondson said he had talked with Ethics Commission officials about adopting a rule permitting the panel to seek a court order to stop such ads or, in the alternative, to compel financial disclosure.
Holland had previously said the TV ads run by “Just Facts America” violated ethics rules because the group did not register with the Ethics Commission.
Edmondson agreed, saying the ad “is clearly electioneering” and meant to harm Holland’s candidacy.
Individuals and corporations engaged strictly in issue advocacy are not required to file ethics reports unless they are opposing or supporting a candidate in advertising.
Holland was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry after the impeachment and resignation of Carroll Fisher, who was hit with federal bribery charges. Holland is seeking a full four-year term as insurance commissioner. She is opposed by Bill Case, a Republican House member.
“These ads are not being run by Holland’s opponent,” Edmondson said. “They come from some organization in Texas with no filings with the Ethics Commission and no information as to who is paying for the ads. The public has a right to know what interests in Texas want Oklahoma to elect a different insurance commissioner.”
The attorney general has been criticized in ads run by the poultry industry. “I believe those cross the line, but at least they identified themselves,” Edmondson said.
The ads run against Holland do not identify her by name, but show a silhouette of a woman and accuse her of breaking the public trust. “Thousands of out-of-state insurance dollars flowing into her office as if it were up for sale,” the commercial says.
Edmondson’s office prosecuted Fisher and he said he was offended by the ads run against Holland.
“She’s been a breath of fresh air and to say she is involved in anything unethical, I find personally offensive,” he said.
Asked if he was merely defending a fellow Democrat, Edmondson said he had also interceded earlier this year on behalf of Republican candidates in the 5th Congressional District who were criticized in automated telephone calls that skirted federal rules.
Case did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
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