Thursday, January 15, 2009

Campaign Finance Shot Down in Muskogee

Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons proposed a campaign finance disclosure ordinance this past week that would require all city candidates to report contributions in excess of $200, or face a fine and misdemeanor conviction. The City Council approved a campaign finance ordinance in 2001, but voted it out a few years later.

On January 6th, the City Council's Public Works committee voted 6-2 against the measure. Voting against were Councilors Bob Luttrull, Robert Perkins, David Jones, Jim Ritchey, James Gulley, and Shawn Raper. Mayor Hammons and Councilor David Ragsdale were the only votes in favor; Councilor Jackie Luckey was not present.

From the Muskogee Phoenix:

The councilors voting against the measure did not hesitate in letting Hammons know how much they disliked his proposal.

“I’m very much opposed to it,” Luttrull said.

“On what grounds?” Hammons asked.

“I think it’s just stupid,” Luttrull answered.

Ritchey said Hammons’ repeated messages calling for openness and transparency in the city government implies those now in office have something to hide.

He asked Hammons who is doing what that he thinks is wrong.

Hammons campaigned with such an ordinance as one of his main planks in his platform.

On January 7th, the Muskogee Phoenix, so far not one of Hammons' allies, came out in favor of a campaign finance ordinance, although with modifications from Hammon's proposal.

During the city council's meeting on the 12th, Mayor Hammons brought the measure up again. This time, the vote failed 6-3; Councilman Luckey was present, and voted with Mayor Hammons for the ordinance. Councilman Jones voiced his support of campaign finance disclosure, but opposed Hammons' version.

Since the failure of the ordinance, the Muskogee Phoenix's letter-to-the-editor section has been flooded with support of Mayor Hammons' measure, and disapproval of the council's reaction, councilmembers Luttrull and Ritchey in particular.

2 comments:

Michael Bates said...

Aren't they already required to disclose contributions over $200 under the state's Political Subdivisions Ethics Act?

MuskogeePolitico said...

I'm not entirely sure; Muskogee being a "home-rule" city kind of complicates things. I will check into it, though. From a quick perusal, it would appear that the Act would apply.