Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey filed paperwork Saturday to terminate his lobbyist registration for an anti-abortion advocacy group, a second job that had drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.
Monday at the Capitol, Calvey said he had not been taking a salary from Oklahomans for Life.
“I got reimbursed for some expenses. That’s over, so I’ve actually terminated. Anything I do there will be as a volunteer,” Calvey said. “I’m happy to advocate for the right to life in whatever capacity is appropriate, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”
County Commissioner Kevin Calvey also Capitol lobbyist by Tres Savage
NonDoc first reported Calvey’s lobbyist registration last week, an unusual position for an elected official that raised eyebrows among lawmakers.
“I am being attacked for my pro-life advocacy, and I wear the scorn of pro-abortion politicians like a badge of honor,” Calvey tweeted Feb. 7, one day after the article had published.
Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC) was one of several legislators surprised to learn of Calvey’s lobbyist registration.
“I called for Commissioner Calvey to resign from one position or the other, believing it was improper to do both at the same time, and I wasn’t alone in my belief that elected officials shouldn’t be paid lobbyists on the side,” Dunnington said Monday. “My initial reaction is that he did it because of the public outcry not because he thought it was wrong, but either way it is in the best interest of the public that he quit. Elected officials shouldn’t also be paid lobbyists.”
Calvey said Monday at the Capitol that he will continue to advocate against abortion on his own time.
“I’m here on county business,” Calvey said. “But if I’m going around and I can visit with somebody about an issue that’s as important as the right to life, it doesn’t really take any extra time so I’m happy to do so as a volunteer advocate.”
Calvey submitted his lobbyist registration to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Jan. 26, and the “lobbyist or liaison expenditure report” he filed Saturday noted it as a “final report.”
“It looks like he spent no money and neither did his client,” Ethics Commission director Ashley Kemp said Monday. “In Oklahoma, they only report what they spend and what their clients spend.”
Dunnington scoffed at Calvey’s tweeted assertion of political persecution.
“This was never about who he was lobbying for,” Dunnington said. “This was about the fact that he’s paid by the taxpayers to do his job as county commissioner, and during work hours he was up here doing a different job lobbying on an issue completely unrelated to his elected position. And there are many of us who just think that’s wrong.”
Calvey said he has always been an advocate for responsible government and has plenty on his plate owing to ongoing problems at the Oklahoma County Jail.
“We are going to build a new jail, and we’ve got to figure out the most cost-effective way to do so,” Calvey said. “We also need to look at the way things operate at the jail to make sure that’s running in a manner that is both humane and cost-effective for the taxpayers. There are some issues there. And we need to always keep an eye on how many people we are putting in the jail, which is down considerably from its height, which is good.”
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