By Associated Press - Monday, August 25, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tulsa Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Mike Neal said he is withdrawing his name as a co-host of a fundraiser for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu after members of Oklahoma’s all-Republican congressional delegation criticized the group for sending out an invitation to the event.

The seven-member, all-Republican delegation signed a letter Sunday expressing disapproval over an August letter that was signed by Neal.

Neal is a Louisiana native and longtime friend of the southern Democrat’s husband. He was a member of the couple’s wedding party.

The letter encourages recipients to attend a Tulsa fundraiser on Wednesday to benefit Landrieu, whose re-election bid in November is one of a handful that could determine which party has a majority in the U.S. Senate. She is the Senate Energy Committee’s chairwoman.

Neal’s letter said Landrieu is committed to legislation that is favorable to Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry.



“I feel that we need to keep Mary in the Senate,” the letter said.

But in a Monday statement, Neal said he is withdrawing his name from a list of other Tulsans who are co-hosting the political fundraiser for Landrieu. He said he had only wanted to help out a friend and that he understands the “tough political battles Oklahoma’s congressional delegation takes on for our state on a daily basis.”

“I never intended to make their jobs more difficult through my support of an old friend,” he said. “Upon learning of the potential negative impact my involvement with the event could potentially cause to Oklahoma’s delegation, I immediately called the Senator and her husband and withdrew my name from the list of co-hosts.”

Tulsa Regional Chamber spokeswoman LToya Knighten said Neal will not attend the fundraiser for Landrieu.

Oklahoma’s congressional delegation had disputed the assertions in Neal’s letter, saying Landrieu “is not good for American energy policy, Oklahoma business, or the Tulsa region.”

“Rather, she will keep (Majority Leader) 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,” the delegation letter said.

A U.S. Senate Republican majority would likely place U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma back into a committee chairmanship, probably of the Environment and Public Works Committee, according to the congressional delegation letter.

Chamber chairman Wade Edmundson told The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/YUVlmJ ) that Neal’s letter had been “inadvertently placed” with chamber letterhead.

He said in a Monday statement that, “the Tulsa Regional Chamber cannot and does not endorse federal candidates in any capacity.”

Edmundson said that Neal had support from himself and chair-elect Alan Armstrong in helping to co-host the fundraiser for Landrieu. He said the organization is reviewing its policy over staff involved in political fundraisers and that it will “take the necessary steps to ensure the policy is fair to individuals who desire to exercise their personal right to support candidates for office.”

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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