Late campaign reports cost state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters

State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters will pay $4,200 to the Ethics Commission for late filing of campaign reports.
State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters will pay $4,200 to the Ethics Commission for late filing of campaign reports.

State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters is paying a total of $4,200 for filing campaign reports late.

The Republican already has used campaign funds to pay $1,200 to the Ethics Commission for two late reports. He signed a settlement last week to pay $3,000 more.

The settlement covers a dozen so-called "last-minute" contribution reports filed one to five days late in 2022. It reduces what he still owed by more than half. He was given 60 days to pay.

Walters and his campaign also agreed to attend training on filing requirements and to correct contributor information on past reports. His chief adviser, Matt Langston, did not respond to a request for comment.

Walters in 2022 was on the GOP primary and runoff ballots and the general election ballot.

Under ethics rules, a candidate has 24 hours to report most donations over $1,000 accepted in the last two weeks before an election. The exception is donations deposited on Election Day or the day before.

More: Ryan Walters ordered to pay Oklahoma Ethics Commission over campaign report violations

The late fee for failing to file a continuing report of contributions is $200 a day, up to $1,000. The fee is not considered a fine.

Walters had been ordered to pay $7,800 to the Ethics Commission for filing 14 reports late in 2022. One of those orders, for $1,000, was rescinded after his campaign explained the report involved fixing a donor's name "to make sure we weren't misleading anybody."

He paid $200 in December for one of those late reports but wanted a hearing on the others. The settlement makes the hearing moot.

He also was told to pay $1,000 for a late report filed in 2023. That report involved a $5,000 donation from a controversial political action committee. He made the payment Feb. 2.

The 1776 Project PAC made the $5,000 donation on Oct. 31, 2022. It says on its website it is "committed to abolishing critical race theory ... from the public school curriculum."

Walters was supposed to report the donation within 24 hours. He reported it instead in a "last-minute" filing on Oct. 27, 2023, almost a year late.

Ryan Walters had not disclosed all campaign donations, made mistakes, according to earlier reports

That filing came two months after The Oklahoman reported he had not disclosed all his campaign donations and made mistakes on others.

The Oklahoman discovered the issues by comparing what Walters reported getting with what PACs and others reported giving.

Walters' contests would have been heard by an administrative law judge at the state Capitol. The administrative law judge could have affirmed, set aside or modified the late fees. Walters could have gone to Oklahoma County District Court if the administrative law judge ruled against him.

Negotiating the settlement was Stephanie McCord, the deputy director and general counsel at the Ethics Commission. Her last day there was Friday.

She told The Oklahoman Friday that the settlement requires his campaign to amend "reports to correctly reflect contributors, including those with 'x.'"

Walters' pre-general election report lists more than a dozen donors with an "x" before the last names, a mistake that prevents accurate searches of his contributions.

Walters is in his first term. He has continued to accept donations to his 2022 campaign, which is allowed. He had raised close to $800,000 as of Dec. 31, according to his latest report.

He reported having $71,055 left.

Candidates frequently have trouble meeting filing deadlines, particularly for "last-minute" reports, but few to the same extent.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Late campaign reports cost state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters