Rumors have been swirling recently that Bob Linn and OCPAC’s crusade against Cindy Byrd was going to culminate in the organization endorsing Mike Romero to run against Cindy in the upcoming statewide primaries. Many conservatives believe that this is one of, if not the main, reason why OCPAC invited Romero to give a presentation about the OSDH scandal a few years back which involved the “missing” $30M (it was never actually missing).
Curiously enough, and in a manner that would be fitting with an attempt to attack a future political opponent, Romero’s presentation made a point of attempting to tie Cindy Byrd to the audit of the OSDH scandal, even though Gary Jones was the State Auditor and Inspector at the time that was responsible for the audit.
Following Romero’s presentation, Andrew Speno and Cathy Costello went to talk to him about the inclusion of Byrd in the presentation. What follows is a letter from Mrs. Costello sent to Bob Linn, president of OCPAC, that details that account:
I wanted to give a little time and space from the incident last week before responding. When you invited me to sing for OCPAC, I was unaware who Mike Romero was. You told me he would be talking about corruption at the health dept. I did remember hearing something about 30 million missing from the health dept., but that it was eventually found.
It is always good to hear all sides of a story, even if it’s 4-5 years old. I saw several people in line speaking to Mr. Romero after his presentation. I decided to go over and simply introduce myself. I shook his hand and told him I was the widow of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
While I was standing there, I heard Andrew Speno ask Mr. Romero, in a CALM tone, why he kept showing Cindy Byrd’s picture next to Gary Jones, frequently referring to “they,” and mentioning her name. He asked what Cindy Byrd had to do with this situation at the health dept. Mr. Romera became agitated and denied he had done this during the presentation. But…he had in fact said, “Gary Jones and Cindy Byrd would not talk to me” and he did in fact show Cindy Byrd’s photo multiple times, saying “they” and giving the impression that she was involved. He then began blaming Cindy and holding her responsible.
Mr. Romero’s response to Andrew Speno’s question was so adolescent. Raising his voice, he yelled, “I’m the son of immigrants!! Those people on the screen made fun of my last name because it ends in an O!!!” I immediately thought to myself, this man is so thinned skinned and immature, he has no business in government. I also thought, my name ends in an O and so does Andrew’s.
I got to know Cindy when I was running for Labor in 2017-2018. I politely said, “with all due respect, I believe Cindy was overseeing county government, working in Ada at the time of the health dept. incident. The County government division is completely separate from the division that was overseen by a different person, the Deputy State Auditor for Agencies, who works at the capitol.” Cindy would not have had anything to do with this issue. Boy, that really set him off.
He began to yell at me and became shockingly rude. I asked him if he knew who I was and he said in a loud and ugly tone, “yeah, yeah I know who you are! I don’t have to talk to you people.” He just kept badgering me, giving no opportunity to respond. I wasn’t going to stand there and be yelled at. I walked away. He yelled after me, “Hey lady, hey lady, why don’t you just stick to singing, cause you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I was absolutely dumb founded at his explosive behavior and responses to me. That’s why I wanted you to know how your guest speaker had treated me. Mark had always been a huge supporter of OCPAC, but he would have been disgusted by Mr. Romero’s behavior. He is a bully and his high level of defensiveness didn’t add up.
After doing some simple investigation, and web searching, I discovered that the FBI, OSBI, SAI, multi-county grand jury and OK District Court ALL “blamed the former chief financial officer, Mike Romero, saying “he never fully understood the underlying budget data or the agency’s cash position.” Now his immature, defensive and rude behavior made sense.
I have known Gary and Mary Jane Jones for many years. Gary has been recognized as a leader who was trusted to come in and lead a state convention, when the party couldn’t agree, receiving high praise from both grassroots and trusted leaders alike. He is ethical and unafraid to tell the truth and stand his ground in his job and in government.
I also have a very high regard for Cindy Byrd. She is ethical, moral, godly and smart. Mr. Romero’s presentation seemed more like a hit piece on these two individuals with no footnotes or references, than an explanation of the so-called “missing 30 million dollars.”
Bob, as I said to you on Wednesday, you are in no way responsible for another person’s behavior. I do not hold you responsible or blame you for what happened Wednesday. However…what I would expect, after that display of explosive and unpredictable behavior, is that Mr. Romero never be welcomed back to OCPAC. Mark Costello used to say, that everyone is entitled to their good reputation. Both Gary Jones and Cindy Byrd deserve an opportunity to respond and address OCPAC to defend themselves from his assertions. I know you will do the right thing.
In the meantime, I think I will take a sabbatical from OCPAC for a while. I wish you nothing but the best.