Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Oklahoman: Coates' Affair With Lobbyist, Award Of Lucrative State Contract Detailed

Coates, Atwood (Courtesy The Oklahoman)
The Oklahoman reports today that Senator Harry Coates, Tecumseh Republican, and a now-pregnant lobbyist who are having a romantic affair worked together to steer a lucrative state contract toward a private company that had hired the lobbyist.

"The wife of Sen. Harry Coates said Monday her husband has told her he is having an affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood," the newspaper's John Estus and Ann Kelley reported. "Atwood, 29, who didn't deny the affair with Coates, 60, also is married. State officials last week announced plans to award a $10 million-a-year state contract for a new juvenile center to the Ada Youth Academy Authority, which has selected a private operator, Rite of Passage, to run the new center. Rite of Passage earlier this year hired Atwood for consulting work."

Last summer, the newspaper reported, Coates denied the affair: "In an August interview with The Oklahoman, Coates said he and Atwood were working together on the juvenile detention center project but denied 'rumors' about their affair. Coates in August said members of the Republican caucus started the rumors because he openly opposed laws dealing with cracking down on illegal immigration. Atwood's husband, Nick Atwood, 32, is an attorney in Gov. Brad Henry's office. He filed for divorce in July. Haley Atwood is pregnant and said in a counterclaim to her husband's divorce filing that she is pregnant by her husband. Coates' wife of 41 years, Betty Coates, said she had an attorney draw up separation papers but hasn't filed them because her husband wouldn't sign them."

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