Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: May 18, 2011
Sparks: Passage of amended closing fund a victory for transparency
Following the Senate passage of House Bill 1953 on Tuesday, Sen.
said his successful amendment of the proposal marked a victory for
transparency in state government. The bill establishes the Oklahoma
Quick-Action Closing Fund, an economic development tool that would
enable the Governor to use public funds to provide companies with
a financial incentive to relocate to Oklahoma or expand existing
Sparks, a co-author of HB 1953, amended the measure on April 27
to require that companies not be involved in independent expenditures
intended for political purposes for a specified period before and
after the acceptance of an award from the fund. The amended proposal
was approved by a vote of 42-3.
“Though the Closing Fund will be an effective economic development
tool, I believed it was important we guarantee transparency in the
process,” said Sparks, D-Norman. “The public is rightly
suspicious of programs which enable large sums of their money to
change hands without transparency. Although the amendment was somewhat
weakened, I believe it will be effective in reducing any suspicion
The amendment would not hinder employees from making political
contributions, and is limited to corporate entities or partnerships.
The prohibition would apply for a twelve-month period preceding
and a five-year period following the receipt of an award from the
Quick Action Closing Fund. The length of the prohibition ensures
it covers each gubernatorial election cycle.
Sparks noted Governor Rick Perry of Texas last year came under
fire when it was discovered more than $16 million had been awarded
from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to companies with officers
or investors who in turn made significant contributions to Perry’s
reelection fund. This discovery resulted in a prominent and distracting
investigation, casting widespread public doubt on the fairness and
legitimacy of the technology fund.
“The success of similar economic development tools makes
it important that we keep pace,” Sparks said. “However,
controversies in other states have clearly illustrated we can craft
a better, more legitimate plan. I believe we’ve done so today.”
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sparks: (405) 521-5553