Coffee Back under Microscope

Thursday, March 26th 2009, 6:22 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- First, taxes were an issue and now, tickets. State Senate leader Glenn Coffee just yesterday paid two traffic citations that date back nearly nine years. This after earlier this week confirming he was almost two years late in paying his 2006 federal income taxes.

The latest issue of the unpaid traffic tickets may compound concerns.

Coffee was given two citations, one for speeding, the other for driving on an expired tag both back in 2000, but not paid until yesterday.

"It's no secret I procrastinate, but I don't recall the exact circumstances," Coffee said.

Under normal circumstances, the failure to pay the fine or appear in court would have resulted in an arrest warrant being issued for Coffee, but in his case, and it seems, many others, that didn't happen because of a problem with what was then a brand new computer system in the Oklahoma Court Clerk's office.

"The computer was not fully functional when it was rolled out, and we believe that's probably the reason why warrants were not issued on those ‘failure to appear citations,'" Chief Deputy Court Clerk Tim Rhodes said.

Still, the fact that Coffee signed the tickets shows he knew they were out there.

"I don't blame anybody but myself, not my CPA, not my wife, I accept responsibility for it," Coffee said.

Political analysts say a week ago no one would have cared about this, but coming just days after news that the IRS had to put a lien on Coffee's home last Fall before he paid $28,000 in federal taxes, there's a great deal of interest.

More on Coffee Apologizes to GOP Colleagues

"When there's blood in the water, politically, bloggers, journalists, the opposition, the loyal opposition, they're going to be looking for more things because Senator Coffee represents an agenda, office of accountability, lawsuit reform, all of these things and I don't suspect this will go away very quickly," NEWS 9 Political Analyst Scott Mitchell said.

There's still no indication that Coffee's leadership role is in any jeopardy, although NEWS 9's political analyst says members of his caucus are getting nervous, and any more revelations like these could put him out.

Senator Coffee believes all of this coming out right now is politically motivated, but he says he will not let this distract him or the GOP caucus from moving forward with their agenda.