OKLAHOMA CITY – According to a press release from Governor Mary Fallin, she has announced she has appointed longtime Shawnee attorney Charlie Laster, who served two years as Democratic leader of the Oklahoma Senate, to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
Laster replaces Wanda Jo Pettigrew, whose term expires in July. She is completing her second successive five-year term. State law prohibits anyone from serving more than two times in succession.
Laster’s term is for five years, and will run until July 2022.
“Charlie Laster has both the legal knowledge and personal character necessary in making rules on the ethical conduct for state elected officials and employees as well as investigating and prosecuting violations of Ethics Commission rules,” said Fallin. “Being a former candidate and elected officeholder, he also is familiar with the financial disclosure statements and the campaign contributions and expenditure reports required and maintained by the commission.”
The Ethics Commission also maintains lobbyist registrations and reports, and has the power to issue advisory opinions when requested.
“I appreciate Governor Fallin’s trust in naming me to the Ethics Commission, which is the public watchdog of state government,” Laster said. “Good government requires elected officials and employees who follow our state ethics laws.”
The governor appoints one member to the five-member commission. The others are appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, the state Senate president pro tempore, the speaker of the state House of Representatives and the state attorney general.
Fallin had to select a Democrat and someone from the 5th Congressional District. State law requires that no more than three can be of the same political party and no more than one congressional district may be represented at a time. Three of the other members of the Ethics Commission are Republicans, and Pettigrew lives in the 5th Congressional District.
Laster has practiced law in Shawnee since 1979. He was elected to the state Senate in 2003 to fill the seat vacated when Brad Henry was elected governor, and served until 2012. During his tenure, he served as co-floor leader from 2006 until 2008, and as Democratic leader from 2008 until 2010.
Laster earned his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University (OSU) and his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma (OU).
He and his wife, Kathleen, live in Shawnee. They have two children: Kara, who graduated from OSU and is studying law at OU, and Luke, who is a student at OSU.
About the Oklahoma Ethics Commission
Created in 1986, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission: serves as the official repository for financial disclosure statements, campaign contributions and expenditure reports, and lobbyist registrations and reports; accepts and files any information voluntarily supplied; distributes forms for reporting the information to the state and county election boards; makes all reports available to the public; preserves reports for at least two years from receipt or length of tenure in office; issues advisory opinions when requested; holds hearings, subpoenas witnesses, compels witness attendance and testimony, administers oaths and affirmations, takes evidence, and subpoenas records; and enforces and collects late fees provided for in the Ethics Commission Act.