Truth Test: Tulsa Mayoral Race Political Ad

Monday, October 5th 2009, 7:03 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- One political ad in the Tulsa mayor's race claims a candidate diverted taxpayer money to a private airline, but is that true?

Most negative campaign ads really aren't specific and make only vague claims. This one is clear and according to the target of it, it's clearly wrong.

"This is an out and out lie," said Dewey Bartlett, (R) Republican Mayoral Candidate.

It's unusually blunt language from Republican Dewey Bartlett, prompted by an unusually direct claim in a commercial from Democrat Tom Adelson.

Announcer In Commercial: "Dewey Bartlett raised turnpike tolls, then diverted our money to a privately owned airline that was going broke."

The commercial refers to Great Plains Airlines and Bartlett's tenure on the Oklahoma Transportation Authority. The OTA considered extending a line of credit to Great Plains, but ultimately did not. The ad says Bartlett 'diverted money' to the airline.

The claim is false. No Turnpike toll money was ever spent on Great Plains or any other airline.

"Not one dime was diverted or spent, of any kind on anything to do with airport hub, airlines, anything or on Great Plains, not a dime," said Albert Kelly Jr, Former Transportation Authority Member.

Senator Adelson declined an offer from The News On 6 to speak on camera about the ad.

Adelson's campaign admitted that "(Bartlett) technically did not divert OTA funds" and continued "he meant to have the OTA invest in Great Plains" and concluded "this is a distinction without a difference."

Bartlett doesn't see it that way.

"That is simply untrue, false, misleading, slanderous, it's a lie," said Dewey Bartlett.

Even though the primary claim in the ad is wrong, the Adelson campaign has kept it on the air.

The ad also says money to fix roads was lost because of the airline's bankruptcy. That's true, but not through the Transportation Authority or Dewey Bartlett.

The state legislature issued $27 million worth of tax credits to Great Plains. The tax credits were transferred to ODOT when they became worthless. The value was offset from ODOT's state funding.


5/16/2006  Related Story: Great Plains Airline Money Impacting Oklahoma Roads

10/2/2009  Related Story: Dewey Bartlett Asks Opponent Tom Adelson For Apology