The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 15, 2013

Commissioner’s firefight

NORMAN — It seems like Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak is on television and in the news more now than during his statewide campaign in 2010. He’s warning homeowners not to let their property insurance lapse just because their home mortgages are paid off. He’s also promoting the value of volunteer fire departments.

Mr. Doak, a Republican who unseated Democrat Commissioner Kim Holland in 2010, has come under fire of his own making for his use of state aircraft and his purchase of military-style vehicles and special-ops uniforms for an anti-fraud unit.

His own party is joining the criticism. Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, has filed legislation that will prevent the insurance department from wasting taxpayer money on unnecessary travel expenditures.

We would hope that not wasting money would be standard operating procedure at all state agencies. Mr. Doak has used some of the state’s aircraft to survey storm damage and attend speaking engagements and various meetings.

The Insurance Department gets its budget from fees paid by citizens and companies operating here. Coates believes Doak is wasting taxpayers’ money to promote himself rather than actually help Oklahomans. The legislation prevents elected officials from being in their own public service advertisements.

“I have nothing against state agencies using PSAs — they are educational and serve an important purpose — but it’s not necessary for elected officials to be seen or heard in those commercials,” Coates said in a press release this past week. “Having elected officials in PSAs is basically free campaigning for those individuals, which gives them an unfair advantage over future opponents. It’s not right and it needs to stop.”

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