Last week an invitation was issued for a fundraiser in honor of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, (best known for selling her vote in support of PPACA (ObamaCare) for $300 million in additional concessions to support Louisiana’s Medicaid system, which became known as “The Louisiana Purchase.”), one of the most liberal senators in Washington, D.C., to be held at none other than Tulsa’s former Mayor, Kathy Taylor’s home. Mike Neal, Louisiana native, President and C.E.O. of Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce is one of the co-hosts of the Landrieu fundraiser. This is not surprising and not out of the ordinary and in the grand scheme of things it would appear that everything was on the up-and-up, until you get to the letter written and signed by Mike Neal on Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce stationary, in his official capacity as President and C.E.O. Invitation and letter
All hell broke loose when the invitation, coupled with the letter was made public. The outcry of the citizens and an Open Letter signed by the entire Oklahoma delegation was heard loud and clear. All seven members of the Oklahoma delegation expressed their surprise and disappointment at the letter written on Chamber stationary, inviting Chamber members to a fundraising event for Senator Landrieu. In their Open Letter to Chamber members they expressed their displeasure with the Tulsa Chamber for “benefitting an out-of-state Democrat running for U.S. Senate. This is not only one of the most competitive races in the country, but a race that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.” The letter from the delegation goes on to say, “Contrary to the Tulsa Chamber letter, electing Mary Landrieu is not good for American energy policy, Oklahoma business, or the Tulsa region. Rather, she will keep Harry Reid in charge of the Senate and allow him to continue to block key energy legislation that would benefit our nation, our state, and our region.” Delegation letter to Chamber
What on earth was Mike Neal thinking? Neal abused his office by using his position at the Tulsa Chamber to influence members of the Chamber to attend a fundraiser for one of the most liberal senators in the U.S. Senate by using the Chamber mailing list, Chamber letterhead, the Chamber staff and resources. Through his participation and support of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, it appears that Mike Neal wants to keep Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, a view that does not represent the values and principles of Tulsa and the surrounding communities.
It seems to be the status quo for the citizens in Tulsa and the surrounding communities to not have their principles and values represented by the Chamber of Commerce. Just last legislative session, Mike Neal and the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce led the charge to raise taxes, supported comprehensive immigration reform, expansion of Medicaid, supported and lobbied for the full implementation of Common Core State Standards, and pushed for more of our tax dollars through state-wide bonding for the building of a Pop Museum, by pushing the One Voice Agenda and its contrary beliefs to conservative Oklahomans.
It is past time for the Chamber to quit being involved in politics. They recruit and fund candidates that will champion the Chamber’s agenda, regardless of what the citizens of Oklahoma want. It is one of the reasons it is so difficult for citizens to get conservative legislation passed. The Chamber hires lobbyists to work against the will of the people to promote crony capitalism, giving unfair advantage to big corporations. It is time for the Chamber of Commerce to go back to what its original intent was, to assist small businesses, to encourage commerce and to once again be the champion of the small business owner.
Neal’s response to this debacle reads more like he was “sorry for getting caught”, or the ol’, “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” type of remorse. Mike Neal should resign his position as President and C.E.O. of the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce effective immediately. As President and C.E.O, he knew what he was doing was wrong and unethical, and yet he chose to do it anyway. The Tulsa Regional Chamber is taxpayer funded (in part), which is unusual for Chamber of Commerce funding. The citizens should be able to call for Neal’s resignation and demand that no more tax payer dollars go to fund this organization – let it be funded by its membership the way most chambers are. Chamber and Neal response