Editorial: Campaign laws are worthless

Campaign laws in Oklahoma are a joke.

They simply are not enforced. And even when a candidate does something obviously criminal, the worst they get is a minor fine or a slap on the wrist.

If you are a candidate for office and you want to run a crooked campaign, you can do so with impunity in Oklahoma.

Here’s an example. State law says that a candidate must clearly identify on every piece of campaign literature or newspaper ad who is paying for that ad. That is true for radio and TV ads, too.

And yet, when voters are inundated with campaign flyers in the mail next year, they will be hard pressed to find out who is paying for them. The information will be on the flyer but it will be so small that you can’t read it or it will be in dark letters on a dark background.

A call to the State Ethics Commission in 2016 to complain about this violation fell on deaf ears. No one cares.

So the Oklahoma County District Attorney files felony charges against State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister because he had evidence that she colluded with a “dark money” group who was raising money on behalf of her campaign with her knowledge.

Then he drops the charges. Maybe it because she and her co-defendants were completely innocent, as she claims. The DA said he is still investigating and charges could be re-filed but don’t look for that to happen.

This looks shady. If the evidence was so weak, why did the DA file charges before he finished investigating? That makes it look political. And the dropping of the charges looks like it also is politically motivated rather than based on the facts.

Lawmakers could save the courts a lot of time by just repealing campaign laws. Enforcement is uneven and ineffectual.