Thursday, June 17, 2010

Three of the state's leaders today find themselves with their pants down and it is not a pretty picture.

The Gadfly: Their Pants Are Down
By Mike McCarville

Democrat Brad Henry, the two-term governor who has negotiated 7-1/2 years of leadership with huge approval ratings and a lot of good will, finds himself under suspicion for two acts in the 2010 session of the Legislature. His veto of Senate Bill 2052 is viewed by some as a political quid-pro-quo, payback to his longtime financial supporters and allies, The Bell Family of Norman, and to protect the job First Lady Kim Henry holds at a foundation controlled by Richard Bell. And his inclusion of a highway traffic "spy" camera plan in his budget (without much comment or explanation) after its advocacy by his campaign fundraiser Barry Switzer has raised more suspicions about his motives and again raises the specter of a quid-pro-quo. Questions about both have largely gone unanswered.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, generally applauded for his early leadership, now finds himself under fire for his apparent inability to answer what should be a snap procedural question for the leader of the Senate, his apparent disinclination to dig into the Terrill-Leftwich-Christian controversy, and his judgment in taking a vacation trip which had him out of contact with the state for more than 10 days while questions were flying. The specter of the Senate's top official not being able to determine who added language to his own bill, and seemingly not inclined to find out, stretches his credibility and raises the suspicion that he knows but doesn't want to say for reasons known only to him.

Republican House Speaker Chris Benge has become known as the man with no answers, or as one wag uncharitably put it, "Mister Stonewall." Despite his leadership position, Benge has acted like a miscreant being chased by an "In Your Corner" television crew. Faced with a television reporter at the door of his home in Tulsa, Benge sent his bewildered wife to face the music while he hid inside. A while back, faced with questions about who removed a photo of President Obama in the House chamber, Benge refused to answer questions and refused to release videotapes that would answer the question. Asked about his awareness of the details involved in Henry's traffic camera system, he declined to answer.

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