Muskogee city councilors should not need a state law to make them do the right thing by disclosing contributors to their campaigns.
Oklahoma Senate Bill 1745, if passed into law in its present form, would require candidates for municipal elections to disclose campaign contributors.
The bill targets candidates in municipalities with 10,000 or more citizens and an annual city budget of $10 million or more.
But the bill also defines a municipal office as one “for which declarations of candidacy are filed with the secretary of the county election board.”
Muskogee’s charter and code of ordinances require candidates to file with the city clerk.
That would legally exempt Muskogee City Council candidates from disclosing campaign contributions and expenditures if the law is passed.
Muskogee city council candidates should, however, disclose their contributors because it is the most transparent way to run government. The threat of being in violation of a law should not matter.
Muskogee has a city ordinance encouraging candidates to disclose contributors.
Encouragement was not enough in this past election. Only two candidates out of nine fully filed disclosure reports.
Candidates should conduct their campaigns with the utmost transparency. They should disclose contributors.
And potential voters should hold candidates accountable.
Voters should ask each candidate who contributed and weigh the answers.
If a candidate does not give you an answer or an incomplete answer, you should remember that come election day.
At the very least, voters should look more favorably on those candidates willing to voluntarily disclose.