Coffee Apologizes to GOP Colleagues


Monday, March 23rd 2009, 2:58 pm
By: News 9


Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee has apologized in a closed-door meeting with his Republican colleagues for a self-described "dumb decision" that led to a federal tax lien filed against him last year for $28,222.

The Associated Press reported last week that Coffee had a lien filed against him for an overdue tax bill on income from 2006.

"I filed an extension, I let it expire," Coffee said. "I was working on filing an amended return, and by no one's fault but my own, I didn't get it done it time."

Coffee paid off the bill within a month of it being filed by the Internal Revenue Service.

He said he was working on an amended return and trying to raise money to pay the tax bill.

Coffee said no one in the GOP caucus has asked him to step down as the No. 1 Senate leader, although some caucus members were "understandably disappointed in what happened."

"He made a mistake," said Senator Todd Lamb (R-Majority Floor Leader). "We had a very healthy caucus today, and he addressed the questions and concerns any of the members of our caucus had."

He said he has addressed the issue and plans to move on, pushing even harder for enactment of the Republican agenda.

The lien was filed the same year that former House Speaker Lance Cargill resigned from the House's top job after a series of embarrassing revelations involving campaign donations, failing to file state income taxes and making late property tax payments.

Under a state law Coffee supported, state employees are subject to dismissal for not filing state income tax returns.

Coffee said he filed and paid his state taxes for the year he was late paying his federal taxes.

Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-McAlester, said Coffee should step down as president pro tem.

Sen. Kenneth Corn, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said Coffee needs to answer more questions Democrats have.

"We have many unanswered questions from our caucus," said Senator Corn. "Nothing has been explained to us."

Corn did not ask for Coffee to step aside.

Coffee, who is term-limited and must give up his legislative post next year, has been seen as a possible candidate for attorney general or other statewide post.

He said he is not discussing his future political plans.