NORMAN — On Thursday, Sen. Harry Coates sent a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin requesting a performance audit of the State Insurance Commission. The Republican senator believes the information is necessary in determining if expenditures being made by the agency conform with state statutes, as well as if they are being used for the manner intended by the legislature and Ethics Commission.
“I think the Insurance Commission’s recent questionable expenditures should be of interest to taxpayers and those paying insurance premiums. This is their money, and they need to know that it is being spent ethically and legally,” Coates said.
Coates said he was disappointed in his Republican colleagues’ lack of interest in the questionable spending of the Insurance Commission.
“I have been labeled a troublemaker for questioning Insurance Doak’s actions in the past, which is unfortunate,” Coates said. “If a Democrat were in that office and a Republican raised these same questions, that individual would be praised as a watch dog for the taxpayers’ money, but I guess as a responsible public official, I’m not supposed to question the actions of a member of my own party.”
Coates said he is tired of the double standard and wants Gov. Fallin to step up and hold Doak responsible for his actions of using public funds to expand and promote his re-election profile rather than on agency duties.
“If a Democrat state official was involved in such questionable behavior, state Republican leadership would be indignant, but this is a fellow Republican, so few on my side of the aisle seem concerned about his waste of public money,” Coates said. “Also, Republicans are supposedly for smaller and more efficient government, but no one seems to care about his efforts to continually increase the size and scope of the agency when it’s not needed. The whole situation and state leadership’s seemingly obvious lack of concern for the situation is baffling.”
The State Auditor’s office is prohibited from investigating the Insurance Commission without a request from the governor, the attorney general or a joint request from the Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker.
“The appearance of the Insurance Commission’s frivolous spending and expansion of authority is tarnishing the image of that office,” Coates said. “This is particularly true when it comes to the hundreds of thousands the agency has spent on motivational books, chamber memberships, uniforms, media equipment for PSAs featuring Doak himself, weapons, catering, fast food, restaurants and lapel pins, among other things.
“Other agencies don’t spend money on these things, so why is the Insurance Commission? If the agency has so much money to blow, perhaps they should lower fees for businesses and also stop accepting any funding from the legislature.”