Air and Space Museum board members differ on Bridenstine
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
6/20/12 at 4:43 PM
First Congressional District Republican primary contestants produced conflicting board member accounts on Wednesday of candidate Jim Bridenstine's 18-month tenure at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum on Wednesday.
Incumbent John Sullivan went public this week with his campaign's previously whispered suggestions that Bridenstine left TASM in mid-2010 under something of a cloud.
Bridenstine has denied the charge, and on Wednesday morning he released a letter signed by TASM legal counsel and board member Greggory Colpitts demanding the Sullivan camp "withdraw" its accusations.
Colpitts' letter says allegations in a recent Sullivan mail piece are "a reckless denial of the facts" and that the TASM board sticks by Chairman Barbara Smallwood's statement last week that attendance rose while Bridenstine was executive director of the museum and that several of his initiatives resulted in greater visibility for it.
Bridenstine, at a press conference Wednesday, referred to the allegations as "desperate attacks, based on a foundation of lies."
In response, Sullivan's campaign released a statement from board member James Bertelsmeyer, who bluntly declared "the best day for the museum was the day that Jim Bridenstine left."
"While I respect Jim's service to our country as an aviator, I can't imagine how he is qualified to run a Congressional District if, in my judgment, he can't effectively manage our Air and Space Museum."
Sullivan's campaign also drew attention to tax filings by TASM during Bridenstine's tenure that show the museum lost about $395,000 in 2009 and $310,000 in 2010.
Bridenstine said the museum broke even during that time but showed the losses because of depreciation and a decision to spend $140,000 in an effort to secure one of the retired space shuttles.
From left to right First Congressional District Republican primary contestants John Sullivan and Jim Bridenstine. KT King/Tulsa World