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December 3, 2013

Proposed ethics rule changes raise concern

OKLAHOMA CITY — A plan to increase by 500 percent the amount in meals and other gifts that a lobbyist can give to a legislator each year is raising concerns from a public watchdog group and some state legislators.

The proposed change is part of a major overhaul of the rules of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission that govern the activities of candidates, campaigns and lobbyists.

Under current rules, a lobbyist is limited to giving a legislator $100 worth of meals and gifts, but there are more than a dozen exclusions. The new rule would increase the limit to $500, and eliminate the exclusions.

The change is opposed by the public watchdog group Common Cause, whose chairman says he’s concerned about the growing ability of lobbyists to “wine and dine” policymakers.

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