McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

June 17, 2014

OSBI joins Chamber of Commerce probe

Documents cite lapse of medical, dental insurance for tourism director as allegations

TAHLEQUAH — Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will assist the Tahlequah Police Department as officers look into the alleged misappropriation of funds within the local Chamber of Commerce.

Police Chief Nate King on Monday confirmed he requested the OSBI’s help after meeting with Chamber board members.

Chamber Executive Director David Moore resigned abruptly last Thursday evening via email. His phone was later disconnected and his Facebook page taken offline. Moore had been away from the Chamber office throughout the week, and employees there said he had called in sick.

Tourism Director Kate Kelly, who is on paid ad- ministrative leave, has declined comment.

Letters and minutes of a June 3 Tourism Council board meeting identify one allegation as a lapse of Kelly’s medical and dental insurance.

Tourism Board Chairwoman Amanda Pritchett on Monday provided the Daily Press with minutes of the board’s June 3 meeting. Board members voted to send letters to Chamber of Commerce Board President Stanley Young and Tahlequah City Attorney Park Medearis to reveal allegations “that the medical and dental insurance for the tourism director have lapsed,” minutes show.

In the letter, Pritchett said the tourism board “would like to request an official response from the Chamber board as to who made this decision and why.”

The board also voted to request copies of all Tourism Council invoices submitted to the city that relate to the hotel-motel tax collections from 2012 to May 2014. Four percent of that tax is remitted to the Chamber of Commerce for promotion of tourism, as part of an agreement dating back to the late 1980s. Recently, the city has sent about $95,000 per year to the Chamber for that purpose.

The board’s request was approved, though board member Donna Tinnin voted against the motion and Tonia Weavel abstained.

The board also decided to request an audit of the Tourism Council’s bank accounts from 2012 to 2014, with findings to be reported to the tourism board “as soon as possible.”

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