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Oklahoma Rural Water Association PAC turns itself in for ethics violations

A slightly rusty water tower against a cloudy sky.
Amir Mohammad HP

The Oklahoma Rural Water Association’s political action committee has agreed to pay fines to the state and shut down after self-reported financial misconduct.

The Oklahoma Rural Water Association (ORWA) is a non-profit organization that aims to support water and wastewater treatment systems across the state. In 2015, it formed a political action committee (PAC) that accepts financial contributions and uses them to support political candidates.

The PAC broke state rules about political contributions and recordkeeping. Recently, PAC officials went to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to self-report. The problems included $3200 transferred improperly between the Rural Water Association non-profit and the PAC’s account. It also received more than $3500 of unclear origin and had other lapses in recordkeeping.

Now, the PAC has signed an agreement to pay $12,000 to the state’s general revenue fund before dissolving its assets, getting rid of its funds and shutting down. The Rural Water Association won’t be able to form a PAC for six months.

The CEO of the Oklahoma Rural Water Association, who also serves as the treasurer for the ORWA PAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

These issues have come to light as the state braces for the Ethics Committee’s public transparency database of campaigns, PACs and lobbyists to stop operations.

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Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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