Tom Coburn

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tom Coburn
Tom Coburn.jpg
U.S. Senate, Oklahoma
Former senator
In office
2005-January 3, 2015
PredecessorDon Nickles (R)
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 2, 2004
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Representative, United States House of Representatives
Bachelor'sOklahoma State University, 1970
M.D.University of Oklahoma Medical School, 1983
Date of birthMarch 14, 1948
Place of birthCasper, WY
Net worth(2012) $3,665,560.50
Tom Coburn (b. March 14, 1948, in Casper, Wyoming) was a Republican member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Oklahoma. Coburn was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and took office in January 2005.

In November 2013, Coburn's office announced that he had been diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer and was undergoing treatment.[1] Coburn retired at the end of 2014, two years before his term would have ended. The governor was not allowed to appoint a replacement, so a special election was held to fill the seat on November 4, 2014.[2]

Coburn's political career began with his election to the U.S. House in 1994. He served in that position until 2001.[3]


Coburn was born in Casper, Wyoming. He attended Oklahoma State University for his undergraduate degree and then spent eight years working as a manufacturing manager for Coburn Optical Industries' Opthalmic Division. Coburn returned to his alma mater for medical school and graduated with his M.D. in 1983.[3]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Coburn's academic, professional and political career:[3]

  • 1970: Graduated from Oklahoma State University
  • 1970-1978: Worked as manufacturing manager, Coburn Opthalmic Division, Coburn Optical Industries
  • 1983: Graduated from Oklahoma State University Medical School
  • 1995-2001: Member of the United States House of Representatives, Oklahoma
  • 2005-2015: Member of the United States Senate, Oklahoma

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Coburn served on the following Senate committees:[4]


Coburn served on the following Senate committees:[5]

  • Finance
    • Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy
    • Subcommittee on Health Care
    • Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth
  • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
    • Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security
    • Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
  • Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
    • Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law
    • Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts

Senate Judiciary Committee

Coburn was first appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee shortly after he was sworn in in January 2005.[6]

Key votes

113th Congress

The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 224 out of the 3215 introduced bills (7 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Coburn's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Yea3.png Coburn voted for the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[9]

Drones filibuster

See also: Rand Paul filibuster of John Brennan's CIA Nomination in March 2013

On March 6, 2013, Senator Rand Paul (R) led a 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's CIA Director nominee, John Brennan. Paul started the filibuster in order to highlight his concerns about the administration's drone policies. In particular, Paul said he was concerned about whether a drone could be used to kill an American citizen within the United States border, without any due process involved. Paul and other civil liberties activists criticized President Obama for not offering a clear response to the question. A total of 14 senators joined Paul in the filibuster -- 13 Republicans and one Democrat.[10][11][12]

According to the website Breitbart, Coburn was one of 30 Republican senators who did not support the filibuster.[13][14]

The day after the filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Paul, responding to the filibuster. Holder wrote, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil? The answer to that is no."[15]


Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Nay3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[16] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Coburn voted with the Republican Party against the bill.[17]

Coburn said on October 1, 2013, that he would continue accepting his salary and planned to "spend it and tithe it" as he always has.[18]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Nay3.png Coburn voted against H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[19]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.
Mexico-U.S. border

Yea3.png Coburn voted for Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[20]

Social issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Nay3.png Coburn voted against S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[21]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal cliff

Yea3.png Coburn voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003, while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by an 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[22]


On The Issues Vote Match

Tom Coburn's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Coburn is a Hard-Core Conservative. Coburn received a score of 24 percent on social issues and 78 percent on economic issues.[23] Note: We are working to resolve inaccuracies with this information. Thank you for your patience.

On The Issues organization logo.

Opinion of Reid

At a New York Young Republican Club meeting in October 2013, Coburn discussed camaraderie in the U.S. Senate. He specifically mentioned a good relationship with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), but when it came to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Coburn's sentiments were not so positive. According to attendees, Coburn referred to Reid as an "absolute a--hole."[24]


Coburn revealed on January 28, 2014, that his new insurance under Obamacare did not cover his oncologist, but said he was receiving excellent care.[25] A spokesperson for Coburn confirmed that since he enrolled in the new health insurance plan under Obamacare, his coverage was reduced, and he lost coverage for his cancer specialist.[25] He said he would continue to pay out of pocket to see the oncologist.[25]

“I'm doing well from a health standpoint, got great docs. Fortunately — even though my new coverage won’t cover my specialist — I'm going to have great care and I have a great prognosis,” Coburn said.[25]


Coburn published an annual document called "Wastebook" to catalog wasteful government spending. Listed below are some instances of wasteful spending detailed in the Wastebook from 2013.[26]

  • The Department of Defense abandoned 2,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) in Afghanistan, allowing them to be destroyed instead of sending them to other bases. It cost approximately $500,000 to build each MRAP.
  • The Department of State spent $630,000 "to attract followers to its Facebook and Twitter accounts."
  • NASA spent $3 million "to study how Congress works."
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities spent nearly $1 million to "explore the origins of popular romance in multi-media."
  • As of 2013, $319 million had been spent to create the website, but "estimates project that more than twice that will be spent on publicity and marketing."

Executive branch "czars"

On October 6, 2009, Coburn, along with fellow Senate Judiciary Committee member Russ Feingold, held a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. The meeting examined the legality of executive branch "czars."[27]

Both Senators Coburn and Feingold examined the appointment powers of the president and the legal entitlement to those powers under the Constitution. Also, Coburn examined whether the appointment process of czars violated the advise and consent clause used for executive branch officials.[28]

During the hearing, Coburn mentioned the Obama Administration's promise on open and transparent government during the 2008 presidential campaign. With the appointment of over 40 people to serve as czars, Coburn raised questions about the promise of transparency in the Obama White House.[29] Senator Coburn also criticized Executive Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg for avoiding to appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee along with top Obama Administration officials.[28][27] Witnesses who appeared in front of Coburn defended Feinberg for not attending the hearing, claiming that his work as an executive pay czar fell within the legislative branch rather than the executive branch of federal government.[27]

Coburn asserted that there were no checks and balances on the power of executive branch czars.[28] He expressed concern that czars were given the right to federal funding for their own staff without congressional approval.[28]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Tom Coburn endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [30]

Unemployment benefits

Coburn slammed President Obama over extending unemployment benefits. He said, "I think we’ve abandoned truth in Washington. The president has abandoned truth. They’re deceitful in what they speak often times, whether it’s the rollout of ObamaCare, or any other subject. They’re not truthful." Coburn said the jobs programs were a waste of federal money and that extended benefits would ultimately hurt people in the long run.[31]

Government shutdown over Obamacare

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

During the 2013 budget debate, in which Republican members discussed forcing a government shutdown over the funding of the Affordable Care Act, Coburn publicly stated that did not believe such a tactic would come to fruition. He stated: "We are not about to shut the government down over the fact that we cannot, only controlling one house of Congress, tell the president that we are not going to fund any portion of this, because we can’t do that."[32]



See also: United States Senate special election in Oklahoma, 2014

Coburn retired at the end of the 113th Congress in January 2015, two years before his term was set to end. The governor was not allowed to appoint a replacement, so a special election was held during the November 2014 general election.[33][34]


On November 2, 2010, Tom Coburn won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Jim Rogers (D), Stephen P. Wallace (I) and Ronald F. Dwyer (I) in the general election.[35]

U.S. Senate, Oklahoma General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngTom Coburn incumbent 70.6% 718,482
     Democratic Jim Rogers 26.1% 265,814
     Independent Stephen P. Wallace 2.5% 25,048
     Independent Ronald F. Dwyer 0.8% 7,807
Total Votes 1,017,151

Full history

Campaign donors

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Coburn attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor history

Comprehensive donor information for Coburn is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Coburn raised a total of $7,737,836 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 22, 2013.[40]

Tom Coburn's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2010 U.S. Senate (Oklahoma) Won $2,644,376
2004 U.S. Senate (Oklahoma) Won $5,093,460
Grand Total Raised $7,737,836

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2016 elections season. Below are Coburn’s reports.[41]

Tom Coburn (2016) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[42]April 15, 2013$120,399.32$4,093.99$(1,868.33)$122,624.98
July Quarterly[43]July 15, 2013$122,624.98$-727.63$(19,450.60)$102,416.75
October Quarterly[44]October 15, 2013$102,416$0$(380)$105,232
Year-End Quarterly[45]December 31, 2013$105,232$0$(2,595)$1,019,986
Running totals


Coburn won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2010. During that re-election cycle, Coburn's campaign committee raised a total of $2,644,376 and spent $3,067,121.[46]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a two-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of two different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Coburn's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $1,861,121 to $5,470,000. That averages to $3,665,560.50, which is lower than the average net worth of Republican Senate members in 2012 of $6,956,438.47. Coburn ranked as the 37th most wealthy senator in 2012.[47] Between 2004 and 2012, Coburn‘s calculated net worth[48] increased by an average of 4 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2012, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[49]

Tom Coburn Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2004 to 2012:31%
Average annual growth:4%[50]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[51]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

Personal finances

See also: Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives

According to an analysis by the Washington Post, Coburn reported buying $25,000 in bonds in a genetic-technology company close to the time that he released a hold on legislation supported by the firm.[52]


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Coburn was a "far-right Republican" as of August 2014.[53] This was the same rating Coburn received in June 2013.[54]

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[55]

Coburn most often voted with:

Coburn least often voted with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Coburn missed 177 of 3,031 roll call votes from January 2005 to July 2014. This amounts to 5.8 percent, which is worse than the median of 2.0 percent among the lifetime records of senators currently serving as of July 2014.[56]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Coburn paid his congressional staff a total of $2,629,706 in 2011. He ranked 12th on the list of the highest paid Republican senatorial staff salaries and ranked 44th overall of the highest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Oklahoma ranked 35th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[57]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Click the link above for the full ratings of all members of Congress.


Coburn ranked 13th in the conservative rankings in 2013.[58]


Coburn ranked 12th in the conservative rankings in 2012.[59]


Coburn ranked first in the conservative rankings in 2011.[60]

Voting with party


Coburn voted with the Republican Party 91.5 percent of the time, which ranked seventh among the 45 Senate Republican members as of August 2014.[61]


Coburn voted with the Republican Party 91.1 percent of the time, which ranked 17th among the 45 Senate Republican members as of June 2013.[62]


Coburn and his wife, Carolyn, have three children.

Battles with cancer

In November 2013, Coburn's office confirmed that the senator was undergoing treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer. Coburn was treated for prostate cancer in 2011. He also battled colon cancer and melanoma.[1]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a google news search for the term Tom + Coburn + Oklahoma + Senate

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Tom Coburn News Feed

  • Loading...

See also

External links

Political Tracker has an article on:
Tom Coburn


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Washington Post, "Coburn diagnosed with prostate cancer," accessed November 8, 2013
  2. The Hill, "Okla. Sen. Coburn to retire at end of 2014," accessed January 17, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Tom Coburn," accessed October 24, 2011
  4. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 22, 2013
  5. Project Vote Smart, "Biography," accessed April 2, 2014
  6. Senate Judiciary, "List of previous members," accessed September 24, 2012
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. Project Vote Smart, "PN 48 - Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  10. CNN, "Rand Paul says he's heard from White House after filibuster," March 7, 2013
  11. USA Today, "Rand Paul filibuster ranks among Senate's longest," March 7, 2013
  12. ABC News, "Rand Paul wins applause from GOP and liberals," March 7, 2013
  13. Breitbart, "AWOL: Meet the GOP senators who refused to stand with Rand," March 7, 2013
  14. Politico, "Rand Paul filibuster blasted by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham," March 7, 2013
  15. Washington Post, "Eric Holder responds to Rand Paul with ‘no’," March 7, 2013
  16. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  17., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  18. Washington Post, "Which lawmakers will refuse their pay during the shutdown?," accessed October 2, 2013
  19. Project Vote Smart, "HR 325 - To Ensure the Complete and Timely Payment of the Obligations of the United States Government Until May 19, 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  20. Project Vote Smart, "S Amdt 1197 - Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  21. Project Vote Smart, "S 47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  22. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ontheissues
  24. Politico, "Report: Tom Coburn called Harry Reid 'absolute a--hole,'" accessed October 29, 2013
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Politico, "Obamacare: Tom Coburn loses cancer doctor," accessed January 28, 2014
  26. Fox News, "Funding for Facebook friends? Coburn catalogues worst of government waste," December 18, 2013
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 New York Times, "Senators Take On Czar Wars," October 7, 2009
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 "Fox News", "Czar Wars," October 8, 2009
  29. "Associated Press", "Senators question the use of administration 'czars'," October 6, 2009 (dead link)
  30. The Hill, "Sen. Coburn endorses Romney for president," March 5, 2012
  31. The Hill, "Coburn: Obama has 'abandoned truth'," accessed January 7, 2014
  32. National Review, "Coburn: Senate cannot defund Obamacare," accessed September 22, 2013
  33. Roll Call, "In Oklahoma, open seats could come sooner," accessed January 16, 2014
  34. The Hill, "Okla. Sen. Coburn to retire at end of 2014," accessed January 17, 2014
  35. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  36. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2004," accessed March 28, 2013
  37. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998," accessed March 28, 2013
  38. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996," accessed March 28, 2013
  39. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1994," accessed March 28, 2013
  40. Open Secrets, "Career Fundraising for Tom Coburn," accessed April 22, 2013
  41. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Coburn Summary Report," accessed August 5, 2013
  42. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Coburn April Quarterly," accessed August 5, 2013
  43. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Coburn July Quarterly," accessed August 5, 2013
  44. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Coburn October Quarterly," accessed February 21, 2014
  45. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Coburn Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 21, 2014
  46. Open Secrets, "Tom Coburn 2010 Election Cycle," accessed October 29, 2011
  47. Open Secrets, "Coburn, 2012," accessed January 14, 2014
  48. This figure represents the total percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below).
  49. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  50. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  51. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  52. Washington Post, "Members of Congress trade in companies while making laws that affect those same firms," June 23, 2012
  53. GovTrack, "Tom Coburn," accessed August 26, 2014
  54. GovTrack, "Tom Coburn," accessed June 7, 2013
  55. OpenCongress, "Sen. Tom Coburn," accessed August 26, 2014
  56. GovTrack, "Tom Coburn," accessed August 26, 2014
  57. LegiStorm, "Tom Coburn," accessed August 17, 2012
  58. National Journal, "2013 Congressional vote ratings," August 26, 2014
  59. National Journal, "2012 Congressional vote ratings," March 7, 2013
  60. National Journal, "Searchable vote ratings tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  61. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  62. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Don Nickles
U.S. Senate - Oklahoma
Succeeded by
James Lankford