Coates: a tempest in a teapot

January 24, 2013

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 knickname, 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 government 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 without 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.