BY KAREN WEBB
Remember when U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was going after President Bill Clinton for committing adultery with a younger aide. While calling Clinton all kinds of names, Newt was committing adultery with a younger aide.
Last year, the Oklahoma House Speaker, Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, was caught not filing or paying his taxes in a timely manner. In January 2008, Sen. Glenn Coffee – now Senate President Pro Tem – commended Cargill for resigning, after some pressure, with this statement:
“He made a difficult decision, and should be commended for putting his caucus, the House of Representatives, and the state ahead of himself.”
Coffee still stands by that statement which I guess means Coffee isn’t making the same difficult decision and he deserves no commendation for putting himself ahead of his caucus, the Senate and the state. There is a smaller GOP majority in the Senate. He says no one has asked him to resign, except a Democrat.
In 2003 Coffee voted for a law allowing the firing of state employees for not paying their taxes. Coffee says:
“The same applies to me,” Coffee said. “Had it been state taxes, I would have had to resign under that state law.”
I guess that means that it is ethical to skip out on your federal taxes. What kind of a law is that?
He says you have to answer for dumb mistakes. He apologized and answered questions in his own caucus so he is making another dumb mistake by saying “screw you” to the Democrats and Oklahomans in general. Cargill blamed his accountant and Coffee blames himself, so I guess that excuses Coffee from public disclosure.
The long and short of it:
In 2006 Coffee’s legislative pay was $50,764 per his spokesman, and he filed for an extension on his federal taxes because he owed $28,822.67 for the tax period ending Dec 31, 2006. The taxes were assessed in Nov. 2007 and he was sent the usual number of notices about his delinquent taxes. In October 2008 he must have received his final notice because the lien was attached and according to him he was trying to get a loan to pay the taxes, but didn’t pay them until Nov. 26 and the lien was released in December 2008.
“I was working on filing an amended return, and by no one’s fault but my own, I didn’t get it done in time,” he said.
Why won’t he answer questions from the Democrats and the rest of us? I only have a couple: what tax bracket is he in if he owes nearly $30,000? He does admit to having income other than the $50,764 he earns as a public servant.
I guess he thinks we should think he should get some slack because he paid off the lien in one month although he had 18 months to pay it from the time he knew he owed it. I don’t think he wants us to know how much money he made and how he made it.
He has to file a yearly income report to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, doesn’t he? How much did he swear he made in 2006?
Why did he need a month to negotiate a loan? Who gave him the loan and under what conditions? If he couldn’t pay the taxes or get a loan to pay the taxes in 18 months how was he able to get this one?
Maybe he got it from one of his staff who got big raises in January. Remember he said they deserved parity with others doing the same jobs. It is unfortunate he and the GOP do not believe teachers deserve parity with teachers in the region or that students deserve parity.
Right now there are 22 Democrats and 26 Republicans in the Oklahoma Senate. In the last session there was a tie and we had co-President Pro Tems and Coffee was one of them. There is or was talk about Coffee running for attorney general or lieutenant governor in 2010.
The Republican caucus needs to ask themselves what they would do if it were a Democratic president pro tem they were discussing. I don’t know why only one Democrat is asking for a resignation.
I think we need a public press conference where Coffee answers questions. He is an attorney and he spends half his time leading the GOP in attacks against attorneys for all kinds of things, although tax delinquency or evasion is not usually one of them.
– Karen Webb lives in Moore, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer