The Daily submitted a complaint to the commission Dec. 13 stemming from the OU Foundation’s denial of an open records request first reported Dec. 7.
Although the foundation invoked a statute that allows them to keep donor information confidential, the state attorney general’s office had issued an opinion in 2002 that indicated it must still comply with all applicable state ethics laws.
In his 2002 opinion, Attorney General Drew Edmondson wrote, “The authority of a public body to keep donors’ identities confidential is tempered by the rules of the commission.”
Anyone who does business with a state entity is required to report any gift to a state officer or employee with a cost of more than $50, according to state statutes.
At its regular meeting Dec. 21, the commission acted on two complaints, voting unanimously “there was a reasonable basis to believe that a violation of constitutional ethics rules had occurred.”
Immediately after the meeting, Marilyn Hughes, executive director for the commission, confirmed an investigation had been opened on the OU Foundation.
All information regarding ongoing investigations is kept confidential in accordance with state law. After a complaint is submitted it is presented to the commission by the executive director during a closed executive session, said Rebecca Adams, general counsel to the commission.
If the commission determines rules have been violated, there is no guarantee the findings will be available to the public.
At its discretion, the commission may resolve a possible rules violation by issuing a private reprimand which remains confidential. They may also issue a public reprimand, reach a settlement or bring a lawsuit to court, Adams said.
A the time this story was written, OU Foundation President Guy Patton and OU Press Secretary Chris Shilling said they had not been contacted by the commission. They were not aware the foundation was the subject of an investigation and could provide no comments.