Oklahoma secretary of state will step down

Oklahoma Secretary of State Glenn Coffee, who also served as Gov. Mary Fallin's chief negotiator on budget and water issues, says he will leave by Jan. 31. He says he continues to support the governor and that his leaving is not caused by any disagreement with any of her staff.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: December 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012
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Secretary of State Glenn Coffee, one of Gov. Mary Fallin's top advisers and a member of her Cabinet, is leaving after serving two years in the post.

Coffee, appointed to the post after Fallin took office in January 2011, said Friday he will pursue opportunities in the private sector. He intends to leave by Jan. 31.

Coffee, a former state senator and the first Republican in Oklahoma history to serve as a GOP leader of the Senate, said there were no rifts with any of the governor's staff that led to his departure.

“Absolutely false,” he told The Oklahoman. “I've always had run-ins with people, but that doesn't mean that there's any hard feelings. That's not what's driving this at all.”

The decision was partly financial, said Coffee, 45. He has four children, the oldest of whom is in college. His annual salary is $88,036, according to state financial records.

“Those are some of the realities that I'm facing,” said Coffee, who served 12 years in the Senate and couldn't seek re-election in 2010 because of legislative term limits. “Oklahomans have made that clear with term limits. That's what they want to see people do — do their public service and then go back to the private sector.”

Coffee, who was an attorney in private practice before accepting the secretary of state's post, wrote in his resignation letter to the governor that he is on “‘Team Fallin' for life.”

“You have assembled a tremendous team in whom I have the utmost confidence,” he wrote. “If I didn't have the needs of my family to consider I suspect I would have to be pried out of this building.”

Timeline of service

Coffee, of Oklahoma City, was elected to the Senate in 1998 and was the first Republican to lead the Senate when the GOP gained control of the chamber for the first time after the 2008 elections. After his term expired in November 2010, he served as co-chairman of Fallin's transition team.

Fallin, elected governor in November 2010, named Coffee secretary of state in January 2011, shortly before she took office.

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