cloudyn.png
Saturday September 19th, 2020 9:13PM

Ex-Sen. Tom Coburn, conservative political maverick, dies

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn was stubborn as a mule and conservative to his core. But the Oklahoma family doctor, known for railing against federal earmarks, didn’t let political differences dictate whom he called friends — even if it didn’t sit well with some of his supporters.

Coburn, who died early Saturday at age 72, joined the U.S. Senate the same year as President Barack Obama, and the pair became fast friends despite their contrasting ideologies. In Oklahoma, where Obama failed to carry a single county in his 2008 presidential bid, voters took note.

But the Republican senator shrugged off complaints in 2009, when the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman, ran a front-page photograph that showed him hugging Obama after the Democratic president gave a speech to a joint session of Congress.

“I’m not aligned with him politically. I don’t know what people back home in Oklahoma would be worried about,” Coburn, who was re-elected the following year, said at the time. "But you need to separate the difference in political philosophy versus friendship. How better to influence somebody than love them?"

Coburn's death was confirmed to The Associated Press by cousin Bob Coburn. He did not provide a cause of death, but Tom Coburn had been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer for years.

Coburn earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick in Congress. He also delivered more than 4,000 babies while an obstetrician and family doctor in Muskogee, where he treated patients for free while in the Senate.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford called Coburn “an inspiration to many."

“He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds,” Lankford said in a statement.

Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit and what he said was excessive government spending endorsed by politicians from both political parties.

"I've got a flat forehead from beating my head against the wall," he told voters in July 2010.

First elected to the U.S. House during the so-called Republican Revolution in 1994, Coburn fiercely criticized the use of federal money for special state projects and was among the few members of Congress who refused to seek such earmarks for their home states.

He represented northeastern Oklahoma for three terms, keeping a pledge in 2000 not to seek re-election. He returned to his medical practice in Muskogee before asking voters to send him back to Washington in 2004, this time to the Senate, so he could fight big spenders and ensure "that our children and grandchildren have a future."

Coburn was re-elected in 2010, but left his second term early, in January 2015, after he was diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer. He said he was convinced he could "best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.”

In the Senate, Coburn released a series of oversight reports detailing what he described as wasteful government spending. A 37-page report in 2011, dubbed “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous,” detailed nearly $30 billion spent annually in government subsidies, tax breaks and federal grant programs to millionaires.

“From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous," Coburn wrote in the report.

A joint report issued in August 2010 by Coburn and Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018, criticized stimulus spending, including $1.9 million for international ant research and $39.7 million to upgrade the Statehouse and political offices in Topeka, Kansas.

Coburn’s stubbornness and thwarting of legislation considered worthy by Democrats frustrated then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“You cannot negotiate with Coburn,” Reid, a Democrat, declared in 2008. “It’s just something you learn over the years is a waste of time.”

During debate over the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, Coburn was part of a bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators who supported an alternative plan to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the next decade through budget cuts and increased revenue through changes to the tax code.

After leaving the Senate, Coburn continued to crusade against taxes, criticizing the Oklahoma Legislature when it passed increases in 2018 to shore up the state budget. A group led by Coburn attempted to launch a petition drive to overturn the tax hikes, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Born in Casper, Wyoming, on March 14, 1948, Coburn grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, he went to work at his family’s business in Virginia, Ophthalmic Division of Coburn Opticals, from 1970 to 1978. He later attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma.

By the time he jumped into politics — a decision he said was based on runaway government spending and his distaste for career politicians — he was married to his wife, Carolyn, with three children and had established a successful medical practice.

Coburn had several health scares during his time in office. He was treated for malignant melanoma in 1975, and in 2011, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

Health woes didn’t seem to damper his contentious attitude.

After revealing in 2003 that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, he told a Tulsa World reporter: “You should be writing about Medicaid and Medicare instead of my health.”

___

Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Coburn left the Senate in early 2015.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Health - Children's Health, AP Business, AP Health - Men's Health, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ex-Sen. Tom Coburn, conservative political maverick, dies
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn has died
12:17PM ( 3 minutes ago )
The Latest: No Canadians with symptoms can board planes
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains
11:58AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Coronavirus is roiling every part of child welfare system
Child welfare agencies in the U.S. have a difficult mission in the best of times, and now they're scrambling to confront new challenges during the coronavirus outbreak
11:39AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Trump OKs major disaster declaration to Michigan
President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan
11:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide has topped 615,000 with new cases stacking up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials digging in for a long fight against the pandemic
10:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Hawks no more: Fiscal conservatives embrace rescue package
The nation's fiercest fiscal conservatives have largely embraced the economic rescue package approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump
8:43AM ( 3 hours ago )
Virus infections top 600,000 worldwide, long fight ahead
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide has topped 600,000 as new cases stack up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dig in for a long fight against the pandemic
8:32AM ( 3 hours ago )
Virus coordinator Birx is Trump's data-whisperer
Dr. Deborah Birx has emerged as one of the most important voices in the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic
8:31AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
U.S. Navy hospital ship heading to NYC for coronavirus aid
A 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship is being rushed back into service to provide medical help to New York City, now the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak
10:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
'Choppy waters' await Navy as virus strikes aircraft carrier
The Navy is the military service hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis
12:17AM ( 12 hours ago )
Keeping your distance no problem in House virus debate
House members had no problem staying six feet apart as they gathered to pass a massive anti-coronavirus spending bill
12:16AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
6 feet, at least: Distance no problem in House virus debate
House members had no problem staying six feet apart as they gathered Friday to pass a massive anti-coronavirus spending bill
6:59PM ( 17 hours ago )
Timeline of key events in the spread of the new coronavirus
The coronavirus raced around the world in only a couple of months
5:22PM ( 18 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump signs $2.2 trillion stimulus package
President Donald Trump has signed a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, calling the bill much-needed relief for American workers reeling from the economic tumult caused by the coronavirus
4:44PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
UK's Johnson virus positive as new outbreaks appear in US
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become the first leader of a major country to test positive for the coronavirus as disturbing new outbreaks appeared in the United States and deaths surged in Italy and Spain
1:46AM ( 10 hours ago )
California has surge of virus cases that threatens hospitals
California is beginning to see the surge of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals
11:33PM ( 12 hours ago )
US eyes new outbreaks as infections worldwide top 590,000
Troubling new outbreaks have bubbled in the United States and deaths are surging in Italy and Spain as the world warily trudges through the pandemic that has sickened more than a half-million people
10:53PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Health
Kristen Bell hosts Nick pandemic special for kids, families
Kristen Bell is hosting a Nickelodeon special with a “kid’s-eye view” of the coronavirus pandemic
11:04AM ( 1 day ago )
Autism diagnosis more common in the US as racial gap closes
U.S. officials say autism has grown slightly more common, but a gap in diagnosis of white and black kids has disappeared
1:42PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Pro Motocross Championship delays season start
The Pro Motocross Championship has pushed back the start its season until June 13 because of the coronavirus outbreak
7:15PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Health - Children's Health
Barcelona donates 30,000 masks to help fight coronavirus
Barcelona has delivered 30,000 masks to the Catalonia government to help fight the coronavirus pandemic
9:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Albania introduces permit amid stricter measures
The Albanian government has announced that people will have to apply for a permit to go out for necessities following stricter measures to contain the virus outbreak
6:47AM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Germany won't ease restrictions before April 20
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says Germany won’t loosen its restrictions on public life before April 20
4:04AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business
AP Health - Men's Health
National bills coming due, with risk; consumers see it, too
This week, the U.S. reported that a staggering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a five-fold increase over the last high sent in 1982
8:55PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: US government looks to continue feeding students
The U.S. federal government is turning to public/private partnerships to keep feeding students in need after the global pandemic forced nationwide school closures
8:34PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: FDA clears test that can quickly detect virus
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes
7:52PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
The Latest: No Canadians with symptoms can board planes
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains
11:58AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Coronavirus is roiling every part of child welfare system
Child welfare agencies in the U.S. have a difficult mission in the best of times, and now they're scrambling to confront new challenges during the coronavirus outbreak
11:39AM ( 41 minutes ago )
How to prep for and spend your government relief check
Payments from a federal coronavirus relief package could take several weeks to arrive
11:38AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Former Sen. Tom Coburn, known as a political maverick, dies
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn has died
11:31AM ( 49 minutes ago )
New cycle: US riders face another year of training for Tokyo
The decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until next year because of the coronavirus has left American cyclists with plenty of mixed feelings
11:29AM ( 51 minutes ago )