Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thompson Leaves Insurance Department

Mike Thompson
Former Rep. Mike Thompson, one of three ex-legislators hired by Insurance Commissioner John Doak in a controversial move when he took office last January, has left the agency unannounced to join British Petroleum as a lobbyist.

State records indicate that Thompson no longer is on the Insurance Department payroll. Thompson has been Deputy Commissioner of Government and Public Affairs.

Thompson was hired at a salary of $99,000 per year, as were former Senator Randy Brogdon and former Rep. Owen Laughlin.

Doak announced their employment after taking office, touting their experience and thus, their value to the department.

Doak Communications Officer Glenn Craven confirmed Thompson's departure.

The hirings prompted controversy because of a law prohibiting former legislators from state employment for two years. Oklahoma’s constitution bars a legislator from working for a state agency within two years of leaving office unless the salary comes from private or federal funds. But former lawmakers may take paid positions with the state within that period if they are paid with money not appropriated from the Legislature, Assistant Insurance Commissioner Rick Farmer said. About 99 percent of the agency’s budget comes from fees and penalties, Farmer said.

Also departing the Insurance Department recently is Dusty Darr, communications officer who was a hold-over from the administration of Kim Holland.

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