Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

October 6, 2013

Conflict questions raised in PR firm’s tie to DA

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

(Continued)

CLAREMORE —

Fred Brown said anyone “who represents a client in a public relations context is expected to protect that client’s public image. News coverage is expected to be impartial. The two roles are incompatible.”
Fred Brown added: “One of responsible journalism’s most important roles is to monitor how the public’s money is spent. This watchdog role is seriously compromised when the supposed watchdog is being paid with tax dollars. An occasional disclosure of the relationship is not enough to counter the basic conflict of interest. It’s just not ethical.”
DA Steidley, however, defended the business relationship with Wylie Communications, and said she “has never paid any news organization or journalist to publish or broadcast articles, editorials or stories for the DA’s office.” 
DA Steidley said she’s used Wylie Communications “on an as needed basis since September of 2012” to constrain costs by not having to employ “a full-time PR/Media person, like many other agencies do. We arrange for those types of services only when necessary.”
Chief Brown said after he submitted the records request for the Wyle Communications tie to the district attorney, her office asked Sheriff Scott Walton to review the video surveillance record of his presence in the courthouse at the time, and to investigate whether his conduct was lawful.
Walton, is a sponsor of the grand jury petition targeting DA Steidley, said he had no intention of doing so.
“I am not going to investigate needless, frivolous allegations of someone walking into the courthouse that is not a threat,” said Walton. “Never has Stan Brown been perceived as a threat.” 
 

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