Rep. Ajay Pittman campaign violations
Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) works on her phone before Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State address on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. (Provided)

State Rep. Ajay Pittman admitted to spending nearly $18,000 for her personal use instead of campaign purposes as intended by donors, according to a settlement agreement finalized today by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

To settle the complaint against her, Pittman (D-OKC) agreed to use personal funds to reimburse her 2020 and 2022 campaign accounts $17,848.22 and on top of that to pay a fine of $17,141.78 to the state’s General Fund.

Pittman, who is seeking reelection against challenger Brittane Grant in the June 18 Democratic primary, agreed to reimburse her campaign accounts and pay a fine in three different payments over the next two years.

By Friday, she agreed to pay $5,000 from her personal funds to her 2020 and 2022 campaign accounts. By May 31, 2025, Pittman agreed to pay $12,000 to her 2022 campaign account. And by May 31, 2026, Pittman agreed to pay $858.22 to her 2022 campaign account and $17,141.78 in a civil penalty. Money from the fine, one of the larger recent fines issued by the Ethics Commission, will go to the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Pittman served as chairperson and treasurer of her 2022 campaign committee. For Pittman’s 2020 campaign committee, Naomi Jenkins served as treasurer while Pittman’s mother, former state Rep. and State Sen. Anastasia Pittman, served as chairperson.

According to the settlement (embedded below), Ajay Pittman admitted to using candidate committee funds for her personal use. She made an improper withdrawal of campaign funds totaling $17,858.52 through checking and ATM accounts for personal credit card payments.

She also admitted to inaccurately reporting $30,000 worth of contributions in 2020 and $20,000 worth of contributions in 2022, according to the settlement.

“Upon execution of this agreement, respondent admits her responsibility for the violations of the Oklahoma ethics rules described below and agrees to receive education and training as specified by the Ethics Commission regarding these violations,” the settlement states.

Oklahoma Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) was first elected in 2018. (Provided)

Contacted at the State Capitol, where legislators were meeting Wednesday to wrap up their work by Friday’s 5 p.m. regular session deadline, Pittman said she did not want to discuss campaign matters while fulfilling her duties as a legislator.

About 20 minutes after the publication of this article, however, Pittman emailed a statement blaming the improper use of campaign funds on “a clerical error.”

“I am pleased that our campaign has reached an agreement with the state Ethics Commission regarding a clerical error in our campaign filings. Although, it is not uncommon for legislators to hire people to manage and file reports on their behalf,” Pittman said. “I am glad that the error was brought to my attention, as it provided us with the opportunity to take swift action, including making changes in campaign staff and working closely with the Ethics Commission to ensure that our campaign is able to update previous years campaign filings that will ensure that we remain in compliance with all state ethics rules now and in the future.”

Pittman signed her statement as “your servant leader.”

“We put this agreement in place to allow us to move forward with a renewed focus on our service to the constituents of House District 99,” she wrote. “I would like to express my gratitude to the constituents and supporters of our campaign as we prioritize our important work on behalf of the people we serve.”

Rep. Ajay Pittman settlement avoids court action

Members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted Wednesday, May 29, 2024, to approve a settlement agreement with state Rep. Ajay Pittman, who admitted to using nearly $18,000 of campaign funds for personal matters. (Michael McNutt)

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s inquiry into the complaint about Pittman’s use of campaign funds had been underway for months.

On April 12, the Ethics Commission directed the agency’s executive director, Lee Anne Bruce Boone, to file a petition in Oklahoma County District Court concerning Case No. 2022-25 after discussing the matter in executive session during its regular monthly meeting. Names of people being investigated by the Ethics Commission for alleged campaign violations are kept confidential until some action is taken, such as the filing of a court complaint or the agreement to a settlement.

Reasons for filing a court action vary, but failure of a person being investigated to respond to the Ethics Commission’s notice of allegations can be one of the triggers.

At the commission’s next meeting, May 10, commissioners discussed Case No. 2022-25 in executive session and eventually voted to authorize Boone to pursue a settlement in the matter.

Pittman signed the settlement agreement May 20. Members of the Ethics Commission held a special meeting today to approve it.

Pittman, 30, is one of the youngest members of the Oklahoma Legislature. She was elected in 2018 to the House District 99 seat in northeast Oklahoma City, which was held by her mother, Anastasia Pittman, from 2006 to 2014.

During her 2018 campaign, Pittman denied that she was the person cited for shoplifting $28 worth of “makeup and merchandise” from a Walmart store.

“We’re looking more into it to make sure there was no self-checkout incident, or accident on camera and a ticket was written without me being there, all of that,” Pittman said of the shoplifting charge at the time.

But signatures on the citation and on OKC Municipal Court records appeared to match Pittman’s signature on her 2018 declaration of candidacy form, which was notarized. A spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department said at the time he could find no record of Pittman challenging the accuracy of her arrest and citation.

In 2020 Pittman defeated Susan Porter, the daughter of former state Sen. E. Melvin Porter, the first Black state senator, in the Democratic primary. Pittman ran unopposed in 2022 and now faces Grant in the June 18 Democratic primary. The winner of the primary will win the House District 99 seat, as no candidate from other parties filed.

Read the settlement agreement

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(Update: This article was updated at 6:22 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, to include a statement from Rep. Ajay Pittman.)