Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday issued an executive order barring state agencies from hiring outside lobbyists as long as he remains in office.
Stitt first addressed lobbying in state government in January, when he filed an executive order requiring all state agencies to submit a list of every lobbyist they hired and the terms of their contract. This order also prohibited agencies from entering into, or renewing, any contract with a lobbyist through the duration of Fiscal Year 2019.
Collected data shows state agencies spent $1.48 million on lobbyists in FY 2019, down from $1.52 million in FY 2018.
“When taking office, I uncovered that several state agencies were collectively spending more than $1 million annually on contract lobbyists to advocate for their own special interests to the Legislature and the executive branch,” Stitt said in a released statement. “The agencies’ practice of hiring contract lobbyists skirts transparency laws and empowers agencies to ignore voters’ mandates.”
A total of 35 state agencies hired lobbyists last fiscal year. Some paid local public relations firms like Saxum and Majority Plus, while others consulted with individuals.
At $140,000, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission spent the most as an agency on third-party lobbyists in FY 2019. The Oklahoma Banking Department, Turnpike Authority and Corporation Commission all spent upwards of $50,000 in the same time frame.
“If a private industry is hiring a lobbyist to come in and advocate for their needs, that’s one thing,” Stitt said in January. “But Oklahomans do not want our state agencies spending money to then try to protect their own interests.”
Stitt has now issued 29 executive orders since taking office in January.