Okla. Insurance Commissioner Candidates Draw Out-of-State Funds

September 5, 2006

The two candidates for Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner drew at least one-quarter of their campaign contributions since January 2005 from out-of-state donors, campaign data shows.

The Oklahoman’s analysis of campaign records from January 2005 through July shows about $1 out of every $3 raised by Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland came from out-of-state contributors. Her opponent, term-limited state Rep. Bill Case, R-Midwest City, reported raising one-fourth of his donations from out-of-state sources.

The statewide average for out-of-state donations is slightly less than $1 in every $10, which is on par with the rest of the nation, said Rachel Weiss, spokeswoman for Montana-based The Institute on Money in State Politics.

At least a quarter of the out-of-state donations to Holland are insurance industry-related, records show.

Holland has been outspoken about Insurance Department employees accepting anything of value from insurance industry representatives, but said running a campaign is a separate function.

“The campaign is a necessary function for me to return to my job and maintain this position,” she said.

She said contributions from out-of-state donors are typical for incumbent insurance commissioners and that no contribution could influence her judgment.

“All I can say is that I have a strong moral barometer that does not permit me to be inappropriately persuaded,” she said.

Gov. Brad Henry appointed Holland, a Tulsa Democrat, last year to replace embattled former Commissioner Carroll Fisher, who resigned after the state House of Representatives impeached him on five charges and before the state Senate could consider his ouster.

Fisher was convicted this year of perjury and embezzling campaign funds. He awaits trial on four other charges, including bribery.

Although one-quarter of Case’s donations were from out-of-state sources, they came from just three donations. His donations over the same period total about $33,000, far less than Holland.

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