The Wind Coalition on Wednesday denied ever hiring the Texas political consultant who was having an Oklahoma legislator followed.
“I have not hired, nor has The Wind Coalition hired, any entity … to conduct opposition research on candidates or officeholders,” said Jeff Clark, president of the industry trade association created to promote the development of wind energy as a power source.
Clark specifically said The Wind Coalition has never hired the political consultant, George C. Shipley, or Shipley’s company for any reason.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has determined Shipley hired the private investigators who placed a tracker on Rep. Mark McBride’s pickup, court records show.
McBride, R-Moore, has blamed the wind industry ever since he found the tracker underneath his pickup Dec. 4. The OSBI special agent on the case has been trying to verify those suspicions.
The agent reported in a court affidavit that a search of the internet shows The Wind Coalition and Shipley & Associates have the same address in Austin, Texas.
Clark said Wednesday that information is outdated. He said The Wind Coalition has not had any offices in the 15-story building since 2012.
He also said The Wind Coalition “has not been contacted about this case by any investigator.”
“From the beginning, this has appeared to be a politically motivated event and we look forward to learning more as the matter is investigated and the facts are presented,” he said.
Shipley, 70, is a once-powerful political consultant who has helped Democrats in Texas for decades. His nickname is “Dr. Dirt.” He has not made any statements to the media.
He has been subpoenaed to appear Tuesday before the Oklahoma multicounty grand jury “to provide testimony.”
Shipley was told to bring business records on who hired him to do research into McBride. A judge in Texas will decide whether he has to come. A hearing is set for Friday.
The OSBI agent learned of Shipley’s involvement from the Oklahoma private investigators, court records show. The OSBI is investigating the case as a “threat” against McBride.
McBride has been outspoken in his belief that the wind industry should pay more in taxes.
The legislator himself was able to find out from the tracking device’s supplier which private investigation firm was responsible for what he considers an invasion of his privacy.
He is now suing the firm, Eastridge Investigations and Asset Protection, in Oklahoma County District Court.