Search ramps up for new Oklahoma Ethics Commission executive director

By: - November 3, 2023 5:29 am

Oklahoma Ethics Commission members meet to discuss a new executive director last month. The commission hopes to hire a replacement before the 2024 election season. (Photo by Janelle Stecklein/Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Ethics Commission members are moving quickly to hire an executive director ahead of what’s expected to be a busy 2024 election season.

The commission met Thursday in a special session to review 14 resumes, and commission members could interview candidates as early as the next meeting on Nov. 17, said executive director Ashley Kemp.

“I don’t know if they’ll make a decision on that day,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to identify somebody pretty quick.”

The commission has been searching for a new executive director since Kemp resigned in July, citing a lack of state funding that made it difficult to enforce ethics laws. Her resignation is effective at the end of the year.

The commission writes and enforces ethics rules for elected officials and state employees and serves as a watchdog for state political campaigns and lobbyist expenditures.

Ethics Commission reopens executive director search after Oklahoma AG’s criticism

Commissioners extended the application period through Oct. 31 after Attorney General Gentner Drummond sent them a letter in September accusing them of violating the Open Meeting Act. He said they discussed candidate qualifications and the general search process behind closed doors. Drummond said those discussions were “not appropriate for executive session.”

He urged them to start the process again.

Kemp said she hopes to train the new director before political candidates begin filing campaign reports.

“Not many people are as familiar with campaign finance and the ethics rules unless you work in it every day,” Kemp said. “So they’ll have to come up to speed very quickly on the areas of regulation for the commission.”

Commission Chair Jarred Brejcha said commissioners are working as quickly as possible to select a new executive director.

“We’re in here today in a special (session) to move things along,” Brejcha said. “We’re going to continue to need a solid leader with an ability to carry forward an important mission.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Mindy Ragan Wood
Mindy Ragan Wood

Mindy covers the legislature for Oklahoma Voice. Her areas of focus include infrastructure, municipal government policies, and human services with an emphasis on the needs of intellectually vulnerable and physically challenged adults.