Oklahoma State Treasurer Scott Meacham said he studied the coal vs. gas argument for several months after he first heard about Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.'s proposal to build a massive coal-fired plant near Red Rock.
Finally, he gave Chesapeake Energy Corp. a call.
"I "¦ said, 'I think you guys are on the right side of this issue and I'm willing to, you know, do what I can to help,'" Meacham said. "After that I got a call from Ackerman McQueen, who asked me if I'd be in an ad."
Working with Oklahoma advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, Meacham provided statements that were made into a full-page, privately funded ad, which appeared in several newspapers.
"To be honest, my staff told me I shouldn't," Meacham said. "They advised me not to. Most politicians, the rule of the day is don't insinuate into someone else's fight, or don't get yourself in a fight between some of Oklahoma's biggest corporations, that it's a lot smarter to keep your head down and stay out of those battles."
Meacham said that while it's unusual for a public official to take sides in a debate fueled by private, for-profit entities, the stakes were high enough for him to step forward. OG&E criticized him for his stand.
"It's unfortunate in our view that the treasurer chose this particular venue," said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford. "We do not at all take issue with individual right to free speech. It's just that we believe it was an inappropriate use of his office to appear in advertising like we saw." "Ben Fenwick