Public employee group considers action in wake of Commissioner Fields’ behavior

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 21-Jul-2010

In a posting today (Wednesday, July 21) the Oklahoma Public Employees Association expressed shock at what was called the “brazen behavior” of state Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields. Fields apparently went to the offices of OPEA on Tuesday, retrieved an Association document from a private office and then destroyed it. The association says it is considering legal action against Fields.

The document, an OPEAPAC survey to political candidates, was returned by Fields earlier this week. However, on Tuesday he returned to the OPEA office and entered the office of an OPEA employee taking his survey off the employee’s desk and tore it up in front of another employee.

Commissioner Fields, according to the web posting, “seems to be upset with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. The Association’s political action committee has contributed funds to one of the Republican candidates facing a primary election in the Labor Commissioner’s race on July 27, according to ethics filing.”

“Our PAC did contribute to Jason Reese after interviewing him,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “They felt like he was the best candidate in the Republican primary. However, we have not, nor were we going to make an endorsement in the general election until the candidates had returned a survey and had interviews with the PAC board.”

Zearley said, “Fields spoke to a third employee and was visibly upset because we had given the other candidate a contribution. He did not have permission nor did he ask permission to enter the private office of one of my employees and take something off his desk.”

Zearley continued, “It seems that Mr. Fields may have a habit of taking things that don’t belong to him.” That comment was in reference to an incident in which Fields was accused of taking a guitar that didn’t belong to him. This move landed Fields in the Public Inebriate Alternative Center, a detox center near Bricktown. The incident garnered nationwide attention.

“We have contributed to primary races where we believe one candidate is more supportive of state employee issues than the other,” Zearley added. “This is one of those occasions. But, we have not contributed to general election races where we are awaiting the outcome of the primary.”

Zearley concluded, “It shows that Mr. Fields has no respect for the professionalism and fair manner in which the Association handles the political process and endorsements.”

“For Mr. Fields to come into our offices and remove something that is clearly Association property may be a violation of the law and we are examining the possibility of action against Mr. Fields,” he concluded.