Tulsa County elected officials — as well as county employees — who own or operate a company are not allowed to bid for county contracts, but there is no county policy prohibiting elected officials from owning stock in a company that does business with the county, officials said this week.
That potential conflict, county officials say, is addressed in the oath of office elected officials take upon entering office.
“If you read that it is pretty clear that you are swearing under oath that you won’t do anything that will advantage you in the course of your normal duties,” said County Commissioner Ron Peters.
A Frontier investigation recently found that Sheriff Stanley Glanz once owned stock in a company that makes a cleaning product the Tulsa Jail used to combat staph infections.
Two months after he took control of the jail from a private operator in June 2005, the jail began using Staph Attack. The product is produced by California-based Pure Bioscience, which Glanz owned stock in and helped promote.
A county official told The Frontier this week that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, tasked with investigation TCSO in the wake of the April 2 Eric Harris shooting, was asking questions this week about the jail’s use of Staph Attack.
It is unclear how much Pure Bioscience stock Glanz owned, exactly when he bought and sold it or how much the county spent buying Staph Attack.
However, the company’s SEC reports indicate the stock went from below $2 per share the year Glanz owned it to a high of more than $8 per share before he reported divesting his stock in 2008.
He told The Frontier that he “lost his ass” on the investment but declined to answer specific questions regarding the matter.
Commissioner John Smaligo said he is unsure whether one county officer has the authority to impose a policy on another and that ultimately, in issues related to personal finances, the county must rely on the word of the elected official.
“Adopt a policy, write a whole new section of state law, amend the state constitution saying that an officer shall disclose this, OK,” Smaligo said. “Is it my job to investigate the other elected officials’ financial interests every time we approve a contract for them?
“How far do I have to go to check this out? At some point you have to rely on the word of the elected official and go from there.”
Peters said it’s possible to imagine that an elected official might own stock in a company that does business with a company that does business with the county.
“So how far do you take that?”
Smaligo and Peters noted that elected officials are required annually to submit a financial disclosure statement to their election board.
For example, Glanz’s 2006 disclosure statement lists at least $1,000 worth of stock in Pure Bioscience he purchased that year.
The closest the financial disclosure statement gets to asking about investments is its requirement that elected officials list “securities valued at $5,000 or more at any time during the filing year.”
The financial disclosure statement also requires elected officials to list contracts “between an agency and the filer, the filer’s spouse or dependents or any entity in which the filer, the filer’s spouse or dependents has a material financial interest.”
County commissioners are routinely asked to approve multiple contracts and purchases from different departments during a single county commission meeting.
Linda Dorrell, the county’s purchasing director, said it is not unusual for a commissioner to question a purchase or contract they are being asked to approve, but “there is no way we would know”— short of the financial disclosure statements — what investments a public official has.
Thus the importance of the oath of office, Smaligo and Peters said.
It reads, in part: “I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law.”