OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Ethics Commission accepted the resignation Friday of its executive director and named the organization’s deputy director to replace him.
Commission members accepted the resignation of Executive Director Lee Slater, effective June 30, and named Deputy Director Ashley Kemp to take over as executive director on July 1.
Slater, 72, is an attorney who has been executive director of the commission since May 2013. Slater previously operated a private law practice for about 25 years and served 18 years as secretary of the state Senate and secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board.
“I was 11 years old when I started setting pins in a bowling alley,” Slater said. He said he has held a steady job for 61 years “and it’s time for me to quit.” Slater has said he may do some private legal work in retirement.
Members of the commission credited Slater for revamping the agency’s rules for lobbyist and election campaign finance disclosure and reorganizing the agency’s staff.
“Through this position he has done a very, very great service to the state of Oklahoma,” Commissioner Jo Pettigrew said.
Without debate, commissioners accepted Slater’s recommendation that Kemp take over as executive director. Slater said Kemp, deputy director since April 2013, has exceeded his expectations and was primarily responsible for installation of the Guardian System software program, a filing and financial disclosure system for lobbyists, candidate and political party committees, political action committees and certain state officers and employees.
“For anyone who wants to challenge her, she’s tough,” Slater said.
Kemp previously served as general counsel to the Oklahoma House, deputy general counsel to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and assistant general counsel to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Kemp is paid $102,000 a year as deputy director and said the executive director is paid $150,000 a year.
Former Republican state Rep. Mike Reynolds, a frequent critic of the commission, was critical of the commission’s action and said it was done without public comment or an attempt to look for other candidates to succeed Slater.
“Their actions are in absolutely unethical form,” Reynolds said. “Lee Slater should have resigned and then the commissioners could have decided what to do. They should have done at least a statewide search.”
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