AG addresses conflicts of interest


Interesting article in today's Whirled about Attorney General Drew Edmondson's opinion issued in response to a question about conflicts of interest on state boards and commissions. You'll find the opinion, which was released on December 15, here. The Whirled article starts here and continues here. I haven't read through the opinion yet to see whether the Whirled article gives an accurate account of the opinion.

The question came from former State Senator Ben Robinson, and concerned the Environmental Quality Board, which oversees the state Department of Environmental Quality.

A couple of interesting points:

Mere abstention from voting may not be sufficient to avoid a conflict of interest. A board member could have considerable influence over a decision even without casting a vote.

Title 60 trusts are excluded from the constitutional provision on which the opinion is based, but some trust board members also hold positions on related city boards, which would be subject to the conflict provision. The story mentions that the board members of the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, a public trust, and also board members of the Tulsa Utility Board, a body established by the City Charter, and the members of the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust are also members of the Tulsa Airport Authority.

The story mentioned Councilor Sam Roop's potential conflict of interest involving a new business venture seeking to provide networking services to the city, and Councilor Roscoe Turner's service on the board of a charity which sought Community Development Block Grant funds. It was interesting that no mention was made of Councilor Bill Christiansen's status as an airport tenant, and the controversy over airport rules which seemed to put his sole competitor at a disadvantage.

The City Council majority was right to raise this issue and to demand full disclosure, not only for the bodies covered by this AG opinion, but for all city authorities, boards, and commissions.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 27, 2004 12:06 AM.

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