S.Q. 744 foes say NEA dollars supporting ballot measure should be returned

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 02-Sep-2010

The One Oklahoma Coalition today (Thursday, September 2) called upon the Yes on 744 campaign to come into compliance with state ethics law and return a contribution from a group affiliated with the National Education Association.

The Yes on 744 campaign garnered  $1.74 million in contributions from an out-of-state group several weeks ago. The anti-744 group is saying that violates state ethics laws banning contributions from one political action committee (PAC) to another PAC.

The coalition disclosed that the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, a contributor to the One Oklahoma Coalition, was contacted earlier this week by state ethics commission executive director, Marilyn Hughes, and was told the contribution to the One Oklahoma committee from the OPEA PAC was not permissible.  The reason provided is that state question committees are by definition a PAC under Oklahoma law.  As such, any contribution from another PAC violates the PAC-to-PAC ban in Oklahoma.

One Oklahoma campaign spokesperson Crystal Drwenski said, “We appreciate the commission bringing this to our attention and have already refunded the contribution to the OPEA to come into full compliance with ethics rules.”

“We now call upon the Yes on 744 campaign to follow suit and come into compliance as well, as it is clear the NEA Ballot Measures and Legislative Crisis Fund is a PAC under Oklahoma law. To allow this money to remain with the Yes on 744 campaign is a violation of state law,” said Drwenski.

The state ethics commission is planning to hold a special meeting to address this issue tomorrow.