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October 6, 2013

Conflict questions raised in PR firm’s tie to DA

Police chief: $8K paid to principals who also own weekly paper

CLAREMORE —

Conflict of interest questions have been raised as a result of Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown’s request to review District Attorney Janice Steidley’s financial ties to the owners of a public relations business who also publish a weekly newspaper critical of Brown.
Brown said he requested and received records of the financial relationship between DA Steidley and John M. Wylie II, owner of Wylie Communications Inc., of Oologah, in response to concerns raised in an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation inquiry.
Wylie and his wife, Faith, also publish the weekly Oologah Lake Leader, which has disparaged Brown and other active supporters of a citizens’ petition seeking a grand jury investigation of DA Steidley, three of her assistants and two county commissioners.
Brown said financial records show the district attorney paid  Wylie Communications about $8,000 over several months. Invoices submitted by DA Steidley to The Daily Progress show payment of $6,250.10 since September of 2012 for research, consultation and press release services. 
The business relationship with the district attorney was first disclosed in an editor’s footnote to the Oologah Lake Leader’s March 26 story on a libel suit filed by Steidley and her top assistants against The Daily Progress. 
After Brown filed his request for the PR firm’s tie to DA Steidley, Wylie, in a Sept. 19 news analysis in his weekly paper, described Brown and other supporters of the grand jury petition as “clowns and conspiracy mongers salivating at the idea of getting a new district attorney by underhanded means instead of an election (which, without chicanery, they’d lose.)”
The article acknowledged Wylie Communications “openly performed public communications projects for Steidley personally, her political campaign committees and the District Attorney’s office” and that the business relationship was not uncommon in Oklahoma when the district attorney’s office did not employ a staff person for such tasks. 

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