State Rep Josh Cockroft begged his constituents for a nice baby shower gift…
10:59 AM EST on March 2, 2015
State Rep. Josh Cockroft and his adorable wife, Jessica, who I think is related to either Pam from the Office or Peter Pan, are having a baby. We know this thanks to charming photos like the one above and strange, shameless Facebook posts like the one below....
Hey, I got a better idea. Why don't you quit begging for free stuff on Facebook!? Get a job, ya' loser!
Just kidding. I'm not a conservative crazy. Josh and I may disagree on a variety of issues, from public arts funding to plagiarism, but that doesn't mean I can't be happy for a fellow human being. We wish him, Jessica and little Cockroft the very best.
With that out-of-the-way...
Obviously, you have to wonder if posting something like that on a public Facebook account that's primarily used for campaign/job purposes is an ethics violation. He's an elected official. There are very strict rules on what types of gifts they can accept. What's to prevent energy industry lobbyists or political insiders from buying the Cockroft's a fancy new crib or 1,000 diapers as a "personal gift."
I asked several Moles if Cockroft's request was illegal or violated some sort of ethics rule. The answers ranged from "Not Sure" to "Probably" to "Yes." They only thing they agreed with was Cockroft's admission that the request was "shameless."
With such a mixed response, I did some digging and found this bit on Oklahoma ethics guideline from OSCN.net:
Chapter 62, App.Title 257. Ethics CommissionChapter 20Standard 257:20-1-9. Restraints on solicitation or acceptance of anything of value - Disclosure.
(a) Influence of official act, fraud or official duty. No state officer and no state employee shall, directly or indirectly, ask, demand, exact, solicit, seek, accept, assign, receive, or agree to receive anything of value for the state officer or employee or for any other person or entity, in return for being:
(1) influenced in the performance of an official act;
(2) influenced to commit, aid in committing, collude in, or allow fraud, or make an opportunity for the commission of fraud on a governmental entity; or
(3) induced to perform or fail to perform an act in violation of the state officer's or state employee's official duty.
(b) Soliciting individually or on behalf of a regulatory governmental entity prohibited. No state officer and no state employee shall, directly or indirectly, ask, demand, exact, solicit, seek, accept, assign, receive or agree to receive anything of value individually or for or on behalf of a governmental entity from a business entity, its employees, officers or board members, or a person who has greater than a ten percent (10%) interest...
Okay, that's a bunch of boring, way-over-my-head, legalese jargon. I don't know if soliciting gifts on Facebook violates any sort of state ethics law. However, the Oklahoma Oath of Office seems to allow it...
I, , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that 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 or via a baby shower registry; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as to the best of my availablity.
So that's why so many politicians have kids. It makes sense.
Since I'm not a lawyer or real journalist, hopefully the legitimate media, other politicians, watch dog groups, etc., check into the legalities of this. While we wait, we'll just eat up the delicious irony Josh has served up for us.
It should be noted that Josh, a conservative tea party guy, earns $38,500 a year as a State Legislator. That salary is for only four months a year of actual work, and doesn't include benefits, mileage expenses, any per diem, and other perks of the job (lobbyist dinners, campaign write-offs, unmarked envelopes). It also doesn't include any additional income he may bring in from the ranch he and his wife call home.
Despite all that, the guy can can barely "afford" to have a baby. If it's tough for Josh, imagine how difficult it must be for the typical Oklahomans family that earns less than $38,000 per year. How are they able to afford having a baby, especially when I doubt they have 3,164 Facebook friends to shamelessly beg? Where do they turn? What do they do? If you ask Josh, he'd probably mumble something about "personal responsibility" and "lowering taxes" before running off to Google an answer.
Since it's way too early in the week to think of such questions, I guess you can check out Josh's baby registry at Baby's R Us. The most expensive item is the $159 NoJo Beautiful Butterfly 9-Piece Crib Bedding Set. It's actually $30-off. I'd probably go with the $22.99 Koala Baby Sage Folding Hamper, because koalas are awesome. Regardless of what you get, save the receipt. I'm sure you can make it tax-deductible somehow.
Update 1: Per the Ogle Mole Network, we've learned that Cockroft changed the name on his Facebook account from "Representative Josh Cockroft" to just "Josh Cockroft" shortly after making the plea for gifts. Here's a screen shot taken 8-minutes after his posted his update...
Here's the screenshot I took this morning...
As the Mole noted, it seems Cockroft knew he was crossing an ethical line.
Update 2: Cockroft changed the privacy settings on his post. He also left the following comment:
Yeah, it was all just a joke. Maybe he got it mixed up with some speech notes.