One Oklahoma City advertising agency handled the ads for each side in the coal vs. gas fight over a new state power plant.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Scott Meacham said ad agency Ackerman McQueen called him immediately after he told an executive at Chesapeake Energy that he would advocate against a proposed $1.87 billion dollar coal plant to be built at Red Rock.
"After that I got a call from Ackerman/McQueen, who asked me if I'd be in an ad," Meacham said. "I was real careful to make sure that none of the resources of this office were used. I thought it was important to keep a bright line between my personal beliefs and the functions of this office."
In addition to advertising, Chesapeake Energy chief Aubrey McClendon made numerous public appearances campaigning against the coal plant, as well as appearing on television and granting interviews for print.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
However, Oklahoma Gas and Electric, which wanted to build the coal plant, also used Ackerman McQueen for its advertising.
OG&E Spokesman Brian Alford said, however, that he didn't think using the same agency for ads between opposing sides would be a problem.
"Agencies are designed to address issues like this. They have firewalls in place that insure that representatives from Chesapeake aren't aware of what our representatives are working on and vice versa," Alford said. "We have every confidence that the agency maintained the appropriate separation. To not have these firewalls in place would jeopardize their credibility. Ackerman McQueen is very well-respected. We have confidence in them to insure these protections."
An Ackerman McQueen spokesman said the agency would not comment, preferring to let their clients speak instead. "Ben Fenwick