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:

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
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
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
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
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.