Did an ousted county judge violate campaign laws while she sought office?
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission believes former Oklahoma County Judge Kendra Coleman did just that.
That body is seeking thousands from the ousted judge.
Miss Coleman, 45, was removed from office last year for misconduct.
The commission accused her in a civil case of numerous campaign finance violations.
She was elected in 2018 in her first bid for public office.
According to the lawsuit, she accepted prohibited donations, made unlawful expenditures, failed to keep required records, and filed late and inaccurate reports.
The commission said she had a “troubling relationship” with her attorney, Joe White.
That attorney represented Miss Coleman during her campaign after the commission opened a formal investigation in 2019.
The commission alleged Mr. White’s legal services are prohibited corporate contributions since he never reported
paying the law firm for the help.
Also, Miss Coleman never reported paying for a 2018 fundraiser and a watch party that year at her attorney’s law firm, the lawsuit says.
Those events should be counted as impermissible contributions, the commission contends.
The commission questioned whether Mr. White could represent Miss Coleman in the civil case since he will be a witness at the trial.
Mr. White said the charges were ridiculous.
“Every person in America is entitled to a lawyer to defend their interests, especially when the government is seeking to punish that person,” he said.
“This remains true even when the person may not be able to afford an attorney.
“Here, the Ethics Commission is attempting to deny Kendra Coleman the counsel of her choice by trying to manufacture a conflict of interest.”
He called the attempt wrong and a violation of her constitutional rights.
“It is despicable behavior by the Ethics Commission, and our society should not tolerate such behavior.”
Candidate Coleman reported raising $29,020 in cash from donors to her 2018 campaign.
The commission alleged Miss Coleman spent more than $10,000 of the funds for spa services.
The commission asked that she be ordered to pay civil penalties to the state’s General Revenue Fund and up to three times the value of “all unlawful contributions and expenditures.”
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is representing the commission.
The former district judge was removed from office by the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary last year.