OKLAHOMA – The Kay County Sheriff’s office (Sheriff Steve Kelley) on March 8th and the Rogers County Sheriff’s office (Scott Walton) on April 12th violated ethics guidelines, rules 2.4 and 2.16 and § 16-119, by using their social media page to make opinionated stances against SQ788 – Legalize Medical Cannabis
Aside from the ethics violations, these posts are riddled with misinformation.
Sheriff Walton refers to the grassroots campaign of SQ788, written by the people of Oklahoma, as “huge” and that most of the people providing financial support for the passage of SQ788 do not reside in the state. We would like to know where Sheriff Walton is getting this information as ethics reports will prove his statement false.
In one post where photos of confiscated edibles are displayed, it reads, “The line between how much of the product could relieve chronic pain in an adult and how much can harm or kill a child can be fairly thin…” To be clear, there have been no reported deaths from cannabis ever, even in children. When did law enforcement start playing doctor? SQ788 is for medicinal purposes, to be monitored under a doctor’s recommendation and care.
Walton also suggests that criminal justice reform bills, SQ780 & SQ781, created the softest drug laws in the nation. State Question 780 reclassified all drug possession, regardless of location, type of drug or number of offenses, to a misdemeanor. State Question 781 created a fund with the intention of using any savings from the passage of State Question 780 and distributing those funds to the counties for rehabilitative programs and mental health treatment for offenders.
Law enforcement agencies profit from the criminalization of drug possession and it’s no surprise that they would advocate against more sensible drug policy. So far, the impact of SQ780 has been positive. State agents who advocate against bills that will reduce their revenue is a conflict of interest. Using their position and power to spread misinformation is unethical and an abuse of power. Their job is to uphold the law and laws change.
From the Annotated Ethics Rules Handbook:
Rule 2.4. Prohibited Uses of Public Funds to Influence Elections. No person shall use or authorize the use of public funds, property or time to engage in activities designed to influence the results of an election for state office or a state question, except as permitted by law or these Rules. This section shall not prohibit an elected state officer from expressing his or her opinion or position on any issue. “Rule 2.16. Use of Social Media Account by State Officer. No Internet social-media account maintained in the name of a state officer as a state officer or state agency may be (1) used to solicit, receive or accept funds for a political party, a political action committee, a candidate or a state question campaign; (2) used to advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for any elective office or a vote for or against a state question or any other question to be voted upon at an election or (3) converted to use by a political party, a political action committee, a candidate or a state question campaign.”Futhermore Police are liable under 5CFR2635.101 Basic Obligation of Public Service and soliciting an opinion into the public domain is NOT part of your job. The fact you are not backing any claims with evidence, and the fact you are a Public Trust holding official, the words here could ultimately be construed as to mislead the public. That would constitute a Constructive Fraud. Thats illegal.”
§ 16-119. Expenditure of Public Funds Any official in this state who shall direct or authorize the expenditure of any public funds under his care, except as specifically authorized by law, to be used either in support of, or in opposition to, any measure which is being referred to a vote of the people by means of the initiative or referendum, or which citizens of this state are attempting to have referred to a vote – 14 – Version 2017.2 of the people by the initiative or referendum, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and the office held by such party shall be adjudged vacant and shall be filled in the manner prescribed by law. Added 1974 by SB 415 [effective January 1, 1975].
These public officials and their agencies must be held accountable for their violations.
Contact the Oklahoma Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General
Phone: (405) 521-3921
Fax: (405) 521-6246
313 NE 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Email: General Inquiries: email@example.com
Download a Citizen’s Complaint form.