As part of our continuing coverage of potential 2014 primaries, we found this email post by OCPAC’s Charlie Meadows to be most interesting. State Senator Harry Coates has been questioning Commissioner John Doak’s Insurance Commission budget for the past several months. Here is what Charlie had to say about Sen. Coates comments:++ HARRY THE TURN-COAT COATES’ WAR ON JOHN DOAK It has appeared to me that ever since Insurance Commissioner John Doak upset Kim Holland, the Democrat darling of the Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, they have taken every opportunity possible to take a swipe at Insurance Commissioner John Doak. Cast in a negative light, there have been recent stories which had a critical tone toward Commissioner Doak for his purchase of law enforcement type vehicles for his fraud investigators as well as equipping them with firearms and law enforcement equipment. In addition, Doak has been criticized for providing T-Shirts for his, on site, disaster team members along with providing motivational materials and recognition awards for all agency employees. Well, the law-enforcement equipment and vehicles set old Harry the “turn-coat” Coates galloping into action with what appears to be a vendetta, by authoring legislation this year to punish Commissioner Doak. Besides the nick name of “turn-coat” Coates, Harry has won OCPAC’s Senate RINO award 3 times and has been runner-up on two other occasions. It is not unusual for several Democrats to have a higher score each year than old Harry on the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper’s Conservative Index. Following is an editorial about Harry from the Tulsa Beacon a few weeks back titled: “Coates: a tempest in a teapot” “Sen. Harry Coates is on the rampage again. Coates is the most out-of- step senator in the Republican Caucus in the state. In fact, he has earned the nickname, Harry ’Turn’ Coate, because of his repeated departures from the GOP platform and his allegiance to liberal policies. His latest target is Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak. Coates wants to deny Doak and all other agency heads the chance to use state airplanes to travel on state business. Coates apparently expects Doak and other officials to drive to Hugo, Miami, Beaver and Altus because driving such long distances would be ’more efficient.’ Incredible as it sounds, Coates wants only the governor and lieutenant governor to have access to the six or seven state planes. Officials should not use these planes for personal benefit or for political campaigns but it is ridiculous to outlaw their use for legitimate reasons. Doak is a breath of fresh air in state government. Insurance commissioners are supposed to stay in the background, collect a pay check and do the bidding of political overlords. But Doak takes his job seriously. He has traveled to all 77 counties to help with the aftermath of wildfires, earthquakes, floods and drought. Doak and his staff are active in investigating fraud and they have a dynamic program to help Oklahomans find out more about their insurance-especially Medicaid and Medicare for seniors. Who knows if Coates is jealous or if Doak is getting close to some sacred cow in the senator’s district. Coates is such a publicity hound that he filed bills and issued press releases with-out even calling Doak to discuss the issue. In Oklahoma politics, Coates represents the old guard that favors special interests and doesn’t rock the boat. Coates would feel more welcome in the Democrat Party. Doak represents a change for the better.” Over the weeks as I was reading all the negative press about Commissioner Doak‘s so called wild spending spree, I was fairly sure that the monies were not tax dollars, but decided to call John to find out for myself. He was very open and helpful to answer my questions and even pointed me to two others on his staff to get even more details. I actually learned a great deal about the agency and believe it important for our readers to know what I learned. As a point of interest, his staff had just presented their annual financial and operations report to the Senate Budget Committee where they were applauded for their report. Senator Coates failed to attend the meeting, to be fair, he is not on the budget committee but not being on a committee has never stopped him in the past from attending and trying to speak at committee meetings regarding his support for illegal aliens. I have even seen him attend house committee meetings. If he really wanted to get the low down on Doak’s performance he should have been present or he should have contacted him as I did. The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) takes in the second largest amount of dollars of any agency in the state, almost $245 million last year. Yet, the state only appropriates about $1.5 million for its operations. John indicates his preference would be for the state not to appropriate any funds for his agency and when asked why the state continued to appropriate funds to the OID, he speculated, it might be a belief that such appropriations allow for the control over the OID. Mr. Doak went on to tell me that in reality, the OID actually operates at the will of the legislature, they already have control over his agency by law. So, where does all this huge sum of money come from? What I learned was that beside regulating the insurance industry and fighting fraud, the OID is little more than a tax generating agency for the state. $200 million of the $245 million in revenues come from what is called a “premium tax”. Part of the cost of every insurance policy in the state has a hidden tax imbedded in it called a premium tax. Did you know that every insurance policy you have has a hidden tax on it? The next largest revenue source to the OID, $23.6 million dollars comes from fees. These are fees that every insurance company and agent in the state has to pay to be in business. The third part of the revenues, come from what is called surplus lines, $21.9 million and the final part comes from what is called fraud recovery, $225,000 last year. It was from this fraud recovery fund that Commissioner Doak purchased the law enforcement equipment last year for his fraud agents, not tax dollars. As another point of interest, the fraud department was established in the OID by the legislature in 1989, before any of the current lawmakers were in office. However, in 2005, the legislature passed a bill to give the fraud department law enforcement powers. Guess who voted to give the department law enforcement powers? None other than good old Harry Coates, now he has also become a hypocrite. If you have a portion of your agency with law enforcement powers, what should you do? Equip them with the necessary tools to do their job, especially in the light that two fraud investigators in Louisiana were killed last year in the line of duty. So where do all of these revenues go? Glad you asked, of the premium tax which raises about $200 million, $93.2 million went to the general fund. The firefighters pension fund received $68.2 million, the Police pension fund received $28.1 million and the law enforcement pension fund received 10.3 million. Of the fees and surplus lines which amounted to $46 million, 76.5% went into the general fund and 23.5% went into the OID revolving fund. The latter is used for the actual operations of the OID. In addition, revenues come from fines, penalties, late fees and recoveries, last year that figure was about $1 million dollars. That revenue was distributed as follows. $250,000 to the Attorney’s General office, $250,000 to the anti-fraud revolving fund, and $485.5 thousand to the general revenue fund. Each year, the legislature looks at the money in the OID’s revolving fund and comes in and sweeps out any excess it deems are available, usually between $4 to $6 million each year. Do you now understand why I suggest that the OID is little more than a revenue raising entity for the state of Oklahoma which serves at the whims of the legislature? I see nothing wrong with fraud recovery funds being used to equip the fraud department investigators. I believe it is smart use of the money in that manner. I wonder what old Harry would rather use the money for? Perhaps more GLBTG seminars taught at the state health department and paid for by tax payer dollars? Perhaps Coates wants that money to be used for the prisoner currently suing the state of Oklahoma to provide tax payer dollars so he can have a sex change operation and counseling now that he supposedly is no longer interested in raping little girls which is why he is in prison at this time? I have no problem with using a small pittance of these funds collected by the OID to provide matching T-shirts so the OID employees can be easily recognized at and around a mobile command tent they set up in a disaster area so the public can easily recognize OID employees to get help in their time of need. Their presence also discourages crooks from ripping off these same victims Now what about things like motivational books and materials for the employees as well as recognition awards? One question to ask is, have these little things helped to motivate the employees to better productivity and raised morale. I might be concerned if these expenses came from tax dollars, but it isn’t as important if they come from recovery monies or fees. I was told that morale is high at the OID. If you struggle with this, just look at some of the companies like Chesapeake, Devon and others that have high marks from their employees. That is always the result of a company investing itself into the well being of their employees and the perception that a company cares enough about them to go an extra mile with them. Bottom line, Senator Coates “IS” a tempest in a tea pot and the good news is, he only has 2 more years before he is term-limited out of office. It would be a shame if the legislature passed legislation to adversely affect the operations of the OID, especially given their aggressive efforts to do their job as described by existing law.