Energy industry ad thanks `no' voters
The oil and gas industry gave thanks a little early this week.
A not-for-profit corporation associated with the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association took out advertisements in newspapers across the state, including the Tulsa World, Owasso Reporter and Wagoner County American Tribune, thanking Republicans in the House of Representatives who last week voted against a bill that would have raised the gross production tax on horizontally drilled oil and gas wells.
The ads do not mention five Democrats who voted against the measure, perhaps because they wanted an even bigger hike in the gross production tax.
The ad pictures people in generic work attire — none of them obviously oil-field workers — thanking representatives in each particular newspaper's circulation area for “supporting hardworking Oklahomans” by “voting FOR Oklahoma jobs and against tax increases.”
The measure in question, House Bill 1054, would have also raised cigarette, fuel and beer taxes and made possible pay increases for teachers and state employees and reinstatement of the refundable state income tax credit.
The ads were authorized and paid for by Energy Engaged, a passthrough nonprofit whose address is the same as Oklahoma City law firm DeBee Gilchrist. The firm also is linked to the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association — one of three state trade associations representing the industry — and to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, an Oklahoma City advocacy group that generally opposes tax increases.
Questions to the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association about the ad and Energy Engage were referred to Ed DeBee, a partner in DeBee Gilchrist.
A call to DeBee was not returned Tuesday.
Some readers complained to the World that they could not find the disclaimer identifying Energy Engage and asked whether the World itself sponsored the ad.
It did not.
State Ethics Commission rules state only that disclaimers must be “of sufficient size and contrast to be clearly readable by the recipient of the communication.”