Questions Raised Over Edmondson's Donation

Saturday, April 7th 2007, 2:40 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Attorney General Drew Edmondson said a $500 donation last year from his campaign to the campaign of state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan may have violated state ethics rules.

Oklahoma's ethics rules state that one campaign cannot give to another candidate's campaign, with a few exceptions.

"Well, there may be a problem," Edmondson said Friday.

The attorney general, a Democrat, said he was going over the rules but had not been able to reach the state Ethics Commission late Friday to see whether there is a problem.

One of the exceptions allowed in the rules is that one campaign can give to another if that contribution is made "on behalf" of the giver's candidacy.

"It requires explanation," the Ethics Commission executive director, Marilyn Hughes, said of the expense. "On the face of it, it looks like a violation."

Edmondson said he thought at the time the expense was OK but will reimburse his own campaign with personal funds if the commission requires it.

"We had a theory we were operating under that if it served a political campaign purpose for me that I could spend campaign money to do it," Edmondson said. "This was an event that I went to and participated in and met people and campaigned and I wrote a campaign check."

For several years, McMahan has held a golf tournament in connection with his campaign.

"My take was -- when I saw it was from the attorney general – I assumed it was OK," McMahan said Friday.

McMahan also said he would do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation if an ethics violation has occurred.

On Thursday, Edmondson announced that Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart and his political consultant Tim Pope, a former state lawmaker, were charged with funneling illegal contributions to Rinehart's 2004 County Commission race.

The state charges allege that the pair knowingly received campaign contributions in excess of $5,000 from three contributors who also were charged with misdemeanor violations.