Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Is there a Doctor in the....um.. Senate? 

Kooky Senator-Elect Tom Coburn doesn't seem to think that being Senator is a full-time job
Republican Sen.-elect Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a politician and an obstetrician, wants to deliver more babies after he takes office Jan. 4, a request apparently at odds with Senate conflict-of-interest rules.
Coburn "merely wants to break even with his costs to maintain his medical practice," and he has had private discussions with GOP leaders as well as members of the Senate ethics committee, spokesman John Hart said Friday night.

Neither the Senate nor the executive branch allows elected or appointed officials, or employees of any kind, to practice medicine on private patients.

Senate Leader Bill Frist, also an M.D., handles this issue a bit different. From Roll Call (subscription only):
Coburn’s position contrasts with that of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), an acclaimed transplant surgeon before entering politics. Frist continues to perform some surgeries on a charitable basis when not engaged in Senate business. Frist also covers the costs of his malpractice insurance out of his own pocket.

Apparently, Coburn isn't hurting for money either, (again from Roll Call):

Coburn’s annual income from his medical practice was far more than the $158,100 he will make as a Senator next year. He also served in the House from 1995 to 2000.
During 2003, Coburn earned slightly more than $380,000 from his medical practice, according to the financial disclosure form he filed as a Senate candidate. Coburn pocketed an additional $25,000 from other sources in that same period. Coburn’s net worth is between $1 million and $3 million.

Thomas A. Coburn Inc., of which Coburn is president, provided Coburn with a salary and “business income” of more than $190,000, while the Muskogee Allergy Clinic paid Coburn $121,500 in salary, and another $67,339 in “business income.” Coburn is a managing partner of the clinic.

Coburn, a family practitioner who specializes in obstetrics, is listed as the manager of Maternal & Family Practice Associates of Muskogee, Okla., and is a managing partner in two real-estate partnerships, one of which is apparently tied to his medical practice. Coburn also serves as the president of a residential construction company and a golf course. He is a director for a publishing firm and for the Family Research Council, a prominent conservative organization.

Coburn had a well-publicized struggle with the House ethics committee over the same issue several years ago. While originally advised he would not be able to practice medicine, he ultimately prevailed. Coburn threatened to retire if they didn't change thier view.


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