Before Doak’s arrival, department investigators didn’t need shotguns or police vehicles. Where Doak’s 2011 downsizing seemed a ludicrously insufficient response to fraud, his latest actions appear expensive overkill.
This is just the latest Doak misstep, which includes announcing in 2011 that he and three lieutenants were moving their offices from Oklahoma City, the base of state government, to Tulsa, where they resided. That was expected to double the rent for the agency’s Tulsa office without public benefit.
Doak’s actions are troubling given Oklahoma’s long history of ethically challenged insurance commissioners. Former Commissioner Carroll Fisher managed to get impeached, indicted and sent to jail. Fisher’s predecessor, John Crawford, was the subject of an FBI investigation before losing election.
The office only regained public respect when Kim Holland was appointed to fill Fisher’s vacancy in January 2005. She was elected to a full term in 2006, but fell short in a 2010 re-election bid.
Doak won not because of his personal appeal to voters, but thanks to those who selected straight-party voting rather than individual candidates. Straight-party ballots gave Republicans candidates an edge of nearly 100,000 votes in 2010 statewide races. Doak won by 91,430 votes.
Doak’s term in office is a reminder that party affiliation matters, but so does personal integrity. Voters should keep both in mind when casting a ballot. So far, his actions appear the product of mismanagement and incompetence rather than corruption, but they are troubling. Increased scrutiny and legislative oversight is more than warranted.