Opponent still questions Commissioner’s bank board membership


While Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett says he has the legal advice of former State Attorney General Susan Loving that it’s legal for him to also sit on the board of a Tulsa bank, his Libertarian opponent still questions the legality of it.

Todd Hagopian responded to Hiett’s recent explanation to OK Energy Today that Susan Loving and her law firm advised him six years ago he could remain on the board of directors at Spirit Bank as long as he recused himself from voting on bank issues involving energy loans.

Hagopian says Loving ruled on the wrong section of the ethics guide.

“It appears that he says that the attorneys cleared him of any violations of 4.2 because he was already a member of the board prior to his election.  I am  a little unclear, because Rule 4.2 is definitions.  However, the attorneys appear to be talking about rule 4.4, which talks about profiting from his position,” wrote Hagopian in an email to OK Energy Today.

He contends if the attorneys had focused on 4.3 of the ethics rules which states a state officer shall comply with more restrictive rules or policies established by his employing agency,  they would have seen the violation.

In other words, Hagopian still believes Hiett has a conflict of interest by serving on the Spirit Bank board of directors and is violating his oath to be a Corporation Commissioner. Hagopian says the oath points out a commissioner will not directly or indirectly have interests in any number of industries but “mortgages” is included.

“Obviously, being on a bank board that deals with bonds, stocks, mortgages, securities, contracts, or earnings of any of the affected industries would be a violation.  It would mean that he lied at the time he took the oath, and would make him ineligible to take the oath again, assuming he remains on as a board member.  All of that assumes that Spirit bank does business in the oil/gas, transportation, or public utilities industries, which I would assume is a fairly safe bet,” charged Hagopian.
Commissioner Hiett told OK Energy Today in a June 23 article that he sought the opinion from the law firm of Lester, Loving and Davies and it was issued Jan. 12, 2015 prior to him taking his oath of office.
As Susan Loving’s letter to Hiett indicated, “Given the fact that your service on the board of directors of the bank predates your election as a corporation commissioner, we are aware of no facts that implicate rule 4.2 of the Rules of the Ethics Commission. With respect to your membership on the bank board, you may wish to recuse from participating in any vote or other action of the board that relates to financing of any entity regulated by the Corporation Commission.”