Former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem named Secretary of State
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma: Republican Governor-elect Mary Fallin, who will be inaugurated as the state's first female chief executive next week, appointed former State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee as Secretary of State for Oklahoma on Tuesday, January 4, 2010. Oklahoma is one of nine states that gives its governor the authority to appoint an individual to the statewide executive position. It is also one of ten states whose head of the local state department is not the chief election official. The former state senator was selected to succeed Democrat M. Susan Savage, who had served in the office since being named to the position by Democratic Governor Brad Henry in 2003.
Although he had been a Republican member of the State Senate since he first publicly elected in 1998, it was not until the last few years of his tenure that Coffee drew controversy. An Associated Press article published in early 2009 revealed that Senate President Pro Tempore Coffee was released from a lien for $28,882 in overdue taxes for the period ending December 31, 2006. A lien is "a legal claim on property that makes it collateral against money that is owed" and, in some cases, that property can then be forced into sale in order to collect. Coffee, who stated that he works with an accountant in preparing his tax returns, insisted that he had "sought an extension in which to file his income tax return, but the time lapsed before the taxes were paid." At around the same time, he was criticized for both giving several staff members considerable pay raises and for taking a number of trips across the country and using taxpayer dollars to cover for rather extraneous travel expenses that were incurred as a result at a time state revenues were down nearly nine percent from the previous year and state agencies were facing a five percent cut in spending.
- The Oklahoman, "Mary Fallin appoints Glenn Coffee as Oklahoma secretary of state" 4 Jan. 2010
- Oklahoma Democratic Leadership Committee, "Senate leader had a tax lien" 21 March, 2009
- Tulsa World, "Coffee's staff gets big raises" 10 Feb. 2009
- Oklahoma Watchdog, "Limousine conservatism: Senate leadership post in Bingman’s future?" 4 Nov. 2010
- News 9 "State Lawmakers Travel on Your Dime" 20 May, 2010