The Oklahoman â™¥ Glenn Coffee
12:00 AM EDT on April 8, 2009
President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate Glenn Coffee lives exactly 13 miles from the State Capitol building where he does the work he was elected to handle. Thanks to such close proximity, Coffee gets to sleep in his own bed when the legislature is in session, he can eat home cooked meals, and he does not qualify for mileage reimbursement because his commute is less than 25 miles one way.
Despite all of these advantages, Senator Coffee's most recent ethics report suggests he racked up over $125K in travel expenses over the past three years, including $58K in 2008 alone. Luckily for the Oklahoma tax payer, Coffee's travel was not reimbursed by the state, it was all paid through his campaign.
Except, wait, Coffee is finishing up his final term in the senate before term limits force him out. And his last campaign witnessed him run unopposed.
So how did he manage to rack up an average of $238/day while not attending to the duties of President Pro Tempore at the Capitol? (Note: this figure also assumes that Coffee didn't spend a single day working for the fancy law firm that is his normal job.)
Sounds like a reasonable question, right? Unfortunately,the single article The Oklahoman felt compelled to run on the topic disagrees. While vaguely mentioning the issue the state Democrats have attempted to raise, The Oklahoman piece, written by Randy Krehbiel, prominently features Coffee's spokes person referring to the topic as "an effort to prolong a non-story." Finishing out the article is basically an infomercial on behalf of Senator Coffee.
Luckily, the Tulsa World also tackled the subject. In their article, written by Randy Krehbiel, they do what journalists call "journalism" and discussed all sides of the issue. There are quotes from the Democrats state chairman and rebuttals to the excuses offered by the Coffee staff. In all it is a well written and fair piece that allows the reader to understand the whole issue. It makes me wish that Randy Krehbiel wrote for The Oklahoman.
Wait, hold on, Randy Krehbiel did write the article for both papers. Now that I think about it, the two papers started a "sharing agreement" that allowed The Oklahoman to use content created by the Tulsa World and vice versa. When that came about, I expected it meant that the papers would publish content from their partner. What I didn't realize was that the editors at The Oklahoman would take the journalism at their counterpart and re-publish it scrubbed of journalistic integrity.
Perhaps OPUBCO's editors plan to even out the coverage by running articles questioning why Coffee needed spent more than twice the amount on travel that his co-President Pro Tempore, Mike Morgan, needed in total expenditures to run his entire office for the year. Or, maybe they'll do some investigative journalism to find out why Coffee's reimbursements were rounded (suggesting to some people with CPA licenses that there weren't receipts to back up the expenses).
Nah, they'll leave it up to the World to provide that content so they can abridge it to suit the Gaylord's politics.