By ANDREW W. GRIFFIN
Oklahoma Watchdog, editor
Posted: November 8, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY — Is Gov.-Elect Mary Fallin stumbling less than a week since voters elected her to be Oklahoma’s first female governor?
Well, her choice of Glenn Coffee, the out-going State Senate Pro Tempore, as part of her “transition team” is raising eyebrows among some who have questioned Coffee’s behavior and odd oversights in recent years.
According to Fallin’s “Transition Central,” Coffee will join Devon’s Executive Chairman Larry Nichols as part of the gubernatorial transition team. They are tasked with helping Fallin make “key hires.”
As Oklahoma City-based Tea Party organizer Alan Webb noted in a Red Dirt Report piece titled “A last go ’round for Oklahoma’s ‘Rat Pack,” Webb includes Coffee as being part of the bumbling Okie Rat Pack, which includes Gov. Brad Henry, outgoing Treasurer Scott Meacham and House Speaker Chris Benge.
Webb smartly notes that Coffee seems to find excuses for everything he does.
Wrote Webb in September 2009: “Don’t worry Glenn, we agree it’s very easy to forget to pay $28,822 in federal taxes; you were probably just distracted by your hard work for the people of the State of Oklahoma. He is a great employer, though. During our budget shortcomings (Coffee) raised his staff’s salaries this past February. Of course he’s probably going to cut the salaries (or jobs) of other people not on his staff. But don’t complain, taxpayers; if you don’t like it, you should have applied for a job on Coffee’s staff.”
As the Tulsa World noted in a Feb. 15, 2009 article headlined “Coffee’s staff gets big raises,” one legislative assistant got a $17,164 raise, given to her the same month that Coffee and his protege Sen. Brian Bingman were living it up, taking limousines while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Vancouver, as we noted here last week in a piece headlined: “Limousine Conservatism: Senate leadership post in Bingman’s future?” Neither Coffee nor Bingman could really explain to the press why this trip and others like it were absolutely necessary, especially considering the state’s budget shortfall. That said, we find it interesting that Coffee’s guy Bingman is well on his way to being the Senate’s next pro tempore. It’ll be as if Coffee never left, even though he is term limited.
Or just jump on over to a website put up in 2009 called “Questions for Glenn Coffee” by the Oklahoma City-based Citizens for Transparency. They note news articles highlighting the aforementioned tax non-payment, some unpaid traffic tickets Coffee got in 2000 and paid in 2009 and then there is the “loan” Coffee received to pay off his IRS lien.
And yet in Fallin’s press release, she notes that “I’ve tasked them with getting my office ready to pursue an agenda of job creation and fiscal discipline, and I know they’re up to the challenge.”
So, those are a few issues Fallin’s staff should bring to her attention. Does Gov.-Elect Fallin and the Republican leadership want more of the same or do they want truly open, honest and transparent government? Having Coffee as part of your transition team, according to some, does not send that sort of signal to citizens and watchdogs alike.
Copyright 2010 Oklahoma Watchdog