Sunday, October 24, 2010

Four Years Later, Kim Holland And Stephen Jones Butt Heads Again In Court And In Politics

The passage of four years has done nothing to diminish the animosity between Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland and Enid attorney Steven Jones.

The animosity is personal, professional and political.

Four years ago, Jones was a leader of the concerted effort to defeat Holland in her first campaign for the office. He and employees of his law firm, and others with whom he is associated, donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican Bill Case of Midwest City, who lost to Holland.

This time around, Jones and friends are in the camp of Republican John Doak in what most believe is a close race. The 2006 campaign against Holland by Jones came at the end of a bitter battle over allegations involving one of Jones' large clients, Texas businessman Gene Phillips, his connection to disgraced Commissioner Carroll Fisher, and his purported interest in doing business in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Talker Analyzes The Doak-Holland Race
KFAQ's Eddie Huff Digs Into The Allegations
Eddie Huff is the host of the Eddie Huff Show on Tulsa talk station KFAQ-1170AM 12-1 p.m. weekdays. A casual appreciation of Holland's work as insurance commissioner, expressed on another KFAQ show, resulted in insults; that's when Huff, an insurance agent himself, got curious. Click here to read his entire blog entry.

Today, Holland and Jones are locked in yet another professional battle involving the Insurance Department, and once again, Jones and friends are pouring money into the campaign of her opponent.

The latest professional battle involves a $102 million lawsuit Holland has filed against the buyer and sellers of an insolvent insurance company. Holland claims the firm was "looted."

Acting as receiver for Park Avenue Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Holland says the $37.5 million sale of the company was funded with its own assets.

Defendants include the seller, Providence Holdings Inc., and seven of its owners of executives, including New York banker Charles Antonucci Sr.

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They have denied her allegations. Among those involved is Jerry Lancaster, who is represented by Jones. Jones said Holland's "allegations are baseless and without merit. Providence Holdings and the Lancasters are the victims of a scheme by Charles Autonucci, who deceived the New York banking superintendent, the Oklahoma Insurance Department, his own lawyers and our clients. The proof is in the documents and the documents exonerate our client."

The lawsuit plays out as Holland's reelection campaign nears its end.

Doak's campaign finance reports on file at the Ethics Commission shows Jones and his associates have been generous supporters.

Jones himself gave the maximum of $5,000 last March. Identified as associated with him in the reports are donors of about $25,000.

Holland, meanwhile, benefits from her incumbency. Those involved in the insurance industry, her reports show, have helped Holland reach $515,000 in donations to her campaign.


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