Skip to comments.GOP leaders take issue with Senate candidate's contract (OK State Senate Race -- Nichols vs Pryor)
Posted on 10/07/2004 6:55:51 AM PDT by PhiKapMom
By James S. Tyree
Transcript Staff Writer
October 7, 2004
Senate Republican leaders and other GOP members are crying foul over a contract between a state agency and State Senate Democratic candidate Lisa Pryor.
The matter stems from a services contract between the Norman candidate and the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department. Republicans take issue over the contract's timing, the money involved and Pryor's use of her campaign address and telephone number as contact information for the Lake Thunderbird project.
"Serious ethical - if not legal - questions surround this contract that was awarded to Lisa Pryor," said Senate Republican Leader James A. Williamson of Tulsa.
Pryor dismissed the misgivings as "politically motivated by a desperate candidate and his surrogates."
Pryor is running for the Senate District 15 seat against Republican incumbent Jonathan Nichols, also of Norman. Nichols declined to comment on specifics, saying instead, "My priority right now is to stay focused on serving my constituents and seeking re-election."
The matter started April 28 when Tourism & Recreation submitted a requisition to the Department of Central Services for $100,000 toward the dam project at Lake Thunderbird. Central Services handles all contracted work agreements with the state.
The requisition listed Pryor as a "suggested vendor," which set off a barrage of questions from Williamson.
"Who recommended Lisa Pryor's name to Tourism before bidding was even opened? How is she most qualified to receive a $100,000 Federal Land Reclamation contract with Tourism? Why can't a large department like Tourism do this with current staff?"
Lu Eyerman, a Tourism & Recreation public information officer, said contracting the work saved money because the department would have needed to hire more staff to do the work in-house. Pryor was the suggested vendor, Eyerman said, based on recommendations from clients at the University of Oklahoma.
"The initial suggestions came from them, but then we went through the bidding process and actually contacted more than a dozen companies in addition to (Pryor)," Eyerman said.
Pryor said she never knew of her recommendation for the contract and that she didn't learn of the Lake Thunderbird job until May during one of her regular visits to the Central Purchasing Web site. Pryor is an independent contractor with backgrounds in writing and education. She had various job contracts with the Department of Education over the previous three years, but had never worked with Tourism & Recreation.
She decided to apply in early June after seeing the job was still up for bidding. She submitted her bid June 17 through Dick Pryor & Associates, LLC, the company she shares with her husband.
In a June 22 letter from Doug Hawthorne of Tourism & Recreation, the department directed Central Purchasing to accept Pryor's "total minimum base bid of $34,365" for "the minimum number of newsletters, meetings and report writing."
"The actual number of newsletters, meetings and report writing," Haw-thorne added, "may be substantially more than the minimum bid and will be billed based on the per unit cost provided by the bidder."
Pryor said she was not aware of the letter. She repeated her bid was for $34,365 to produce six newsletters, write technical reports and to get public involvement for the Lake Thunderbird/Norman Dam Project Public Involvement Plan. She referred all other contract questions to Central Purchasing, which did not return a telephone message Wednesday.
Critics were alarmed by Pryor's preparation fee of $250 per page on the first newsletter and $400 per page on all others. But those figures are included in the original contract of $34,365.
Republican leaders also criticized Pryor for using her campaign's mailing address and telephone number as contact information for the Lake Thunderbird dam project.
"This is a federal project managed at the state level and contracted through Lisa Pryor's company, yet she seems to be intermingling her campaign with the Thunderbird Dam Project," Williamson wrote. "This places Senator Nichols at a serious disadvantage. When people call the Lake Thunderbird project, they get Lisa Pryor's phone number listed on her campaign Web site."
Pryor said she has used the post office box and telephone number for numerous purposes well before she entered the Senate race, and that they are the best way for people interested in the dam project to contact her.
"That is business, and I am providing access to me as a business person and as a candidate," Pryor responded. "I tend to be as responsive as possible to the people, whether it's business, political or personal. Sen. Nichols isn't nearly as responsive to the people of District 15, and that's why I'm running."
Eyerman, the Tourism & Recreation spokeswoman, said policy dictates state work must remain separate from a campaign. Pryor insists it has and that the contract is above board; Williamson isn't so sure.
"There are serious questions about whether this contract was necessary and whether it was an arms-length transaction," Williamson said.
"Our work is clearly outlined in the proposal," Pryor said. "I don't need it to run my campaign, but maybe (Nichols) does. He avoids talking about the issues."
James S. Tyree366firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you ping other OK people? Several of us have been working on this for a week after we attended the first meeting on the Monday, Sep 27th. At this meeting, Lisa's husband, Dick Pryor, refused to take questions -- said to write each question down on a small piece of paper and they would decide if they were going to answer them at a later time. He ran the meeting like a dictator and it did not go over well the people there.
Next day went to the State Capitol to pull the file and it was pulling teeth to get the file and then kept being told there was nothing in the file -- can you say red flags?
My question remains today -- how many other contracts in this State have been awarded during an election year to Dems to "possibly" help them to run for office or re-election not to mention the publicity a candidate would get from holding a public hearing.
This one backfired and am proud to be part of the group that broke it wide open on Tuesday at noon following by our terrific Republican Senator leadership press release yesterday afternoon!
Norman Transcript finally has a journalist writing -- he is really good and really fair! James Tyree is one of the best I have read and isn't afraid to tackle a controversial issue.
Know this is Oklahoma politics but some of you might want to check your states if you have a Dem controlled Government and see if Dems running for office have been given contracts since they announced they were running. This may be the way the Dems are helping finance their candidates. Note I said "may" and not actually accusing anyone of corruption -- just asking people to connect the dots.
Also see if they have given out any contracts for GPS software like they did here in March in connection with this same contract which was before contract award or solicitation. Our local county Dems have this software claiming it was from Howard Dean -- why would Dean give software to an OK County?
Cal Hobson drunk on the State House floor....Twice now in rehab...and he's still employed.
The Carroll Fisher drunk driving, Shoes for Kids fiasco......
The Gene Stipe joke....
Our very own Governor DoLittle...
The homosexual celebration party in the Senate house...hosted by the Okie Rats....
It's just one thing after another....
On a happy note...I was called by a Carson worker....urging me to vote for Carson. (hehehe...) I very happily told them that we had three people in my family voting for Dr. Tom Coburn. She asked me why....?( Big Mistake..on her part..Ha!! ) Proceeded to tell her...I didn't want an okie voting with Teddy the Swimmer...and Hillary the liar, and Barney the boy lover...I don't think she appreciated that....hehehehe...Oh well...I was a bit cranky...and she DID ask..!!
Way to go!
I have had a lot of fun this past week working on this to bring out more of the corruption -- doesn't take a lot to connect the dots!