Although they get a bad rap at times, sometimes we forget that lobbyists are actually decent, hard-working people who are simply out there fighting for the common man, while being paid by wealthy oligarchs, special interests and corporations. At least according to sanctimonious local journalism websites that pride themselves on integrity and objectivity while also taking money from lobbyists.
In addition to their strong moral compasses, lobbyists also make great landlords — especially when you’re an Oklahoma lawmaker looking for a sweet deal on an apartment.
Via The Oklahoman’s Carmen “Don’t Call Me Scotty” Foreman:
One of Oklahoma’s most powerful legislators has rented a garage apartment in Oklahoma City from an OGE Energy Corp. lobbyist.
House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Wallace rented an apartment from lobbyist Ken Miller during the legislative session and in other months when Wallace, R-Wellston, had to be at or near the Capitol for meetings and other events.
Wallace, who paid $350 per month in rent, started renting from Miller in July 2018, according to public campaign finance reports. Wallace uses his campaign account to pay rent for the months the Legislature is not in session. Wallace had paid Miller $2,450 from his campaign account for rent through June, according to the latest campaign reports…
Wow. $350 a month for an apartment by the Capitol?! That’s a great deal! I searched Zillow to see if there are in other rentals anywhere in the metro, much less by the Capitol, at such a rate. This is what I found:
Yep, out of all the places for rent in Oklahoma City, there’s only one in the entire metro under $350 per month. It’s a live-there-at-your-own-peril gem near SW 29th and May. Something tells me Wallace wouldn’t be interested in it, because you know, it’s not close to the Capitol.
So, what type of laws does this violate? NewsOK has the answer:
The arrangement between Wallace and Miller is not illegal, nor does it violate state ethics rules…
Wallace said he has rented the apartment for more than a year, an arrangement that started before Miller became a lobbyist. Miller’s new job didn’t change anything, Wallace said.
Miller, who served in the House from 2004 to 2010, previously served as state treasurer — a position he resigned from on Jan. 1, shortly before the end of his second term. On Jan. 2, Miller became the vice president of regulatory and state government affairs at the energy company.
Yeah, I don’t see what the big deal is. Although a similar situation created a juicy scandal for Scott Pruitt (another wholly-owned subsidiary of Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry), it is legal and doesn’t violate any state ethics rules. Plus, what could possibly go wrong with a OG&E lobbyist being a landlord for lawmakers?
“Hey Ken, we’re having problem with the AC unit? Can you send someone out to take a look?”
“Yeah, but before I do, can we chat a bit about that bill we’d like for you to introduce for us?”
“What’s the point? You already know I’ll do anything OG&E wants me to do!”
“Good point. I’ll get someone out to fix it today.”
Seriously, like an OG&E lobbyist needs to be a landlord to influence a Republican Oklahoma lawmaker. They already sleep in the same bed together.