Who's picking up the Bill?

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It was the end of today's Republican barbecue, and I walked down the hill toward the pond to round up my kids and get them into the car. As I did, I noticed Mayor Bill LaFortune and his wife Kathy about to get into a big, beautiful, new silver SUV, a Dodge Durango. (Yeah, it's got a hemi.) What caught my eye was the Crown Bristow dealer's tag still on the tail of the vehicle -- no permanent tag yet.

The managing partner of Crown Bristow is Henry Primeaux, who used to own Crown Auto World, a major collection of dealerships near 46th and Sheridan in Tulsa. ("Sam's is still next door." Remember?) Primeaux also is co-operator of the Tulsa Talons Arena Football 2 team. Primeaux is on Bill LaFortune's re-election campaign committee.

Several possibilities came to mind. The LaFortunes may have bought or leased the Durango, or the campaign may be leasing it, but if so, why not buy or lease it from a dealer based in the City of Tulsa instead of 40 miles away? Or, Primeaux may have provided the vehicle as a loaner for the campaign or for the Mayor's personal use -- either way, there are ethics reporting requirements that would need to be met.

That the LaFortunes would buy such an expensive new vehicle seems doubtful, given this story: Sunday's picnic featured an auction, and several of the items auctioned were lunches with an elected official, with the elected official paying. Organizers tried to get both declared Republican mayoral candidates to participate. Councilor Chris Medlock agreed to treat the winning bidder to a meal. Mayor LaFortune insisted that the auction organizers find a restaurant that would feed him and the winning bidder for free. The organizers tried but couldn't find a place willing to "comp" the Mayor, so they dropped both mayoral candidates from the list of lunches to bid on.

UPDATE Monday 10/10/2005: The Crown Bristow Durango was spotted and photographed in the Mayor's parking space at City Hall.

UPDATE Thursday 10/13/2005: I was imprecise in my use of the phrase "dealer's tag": I was trying to describe the temporary, cardboard tag featuring the dealer's logo, mounted in the space where a permanent license plate would go, not a permanent plate with the "DEALER" designation on it, which is for vehicles retained by a dealership for its own use. "Temporary tag" would have been a better choice of words. Also, it was not my intention to suggest any wrongdoing or impropriety on the part of Henry Primeaux or his business. I've been told that the SUV was sold to Bill LaFortune's father at a normal market price. If an in-kind contribution had been made to the campaign, the burden would be on the campaign, not the donor, to make the necessary ethics disclosures.


G Webster Wormleigh said:

Out of a magnificent sense of community, I will pick up the tab for a winning bidder's lunch with either Chris or Bill....I will, out of magnanimity and fairness, wait until lunch is over, and then will pay the bill and include the tip. And, while they are at lunch, I will wash the Mayor's new Hemi!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 9, 2005 10:47 PM.

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