Nonprofit organizations throughout Oklahoma met Friday to express their support for Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its CEO Aubrey McClendon, both of whom have received scrutiny over the past three weeks.
“When any of our partner organizations do so much for the community, we wonder how much the community knows about it,” Debby Hampton, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Oklahoma, said of the rally at Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma Inc. “Chesapeake has touched nonprofit organizations throughout Oklahoma, including health and human services, arts, education and animal welfare organizations.”
More than 20 organizations reportedly were represented at the meeting.
Chesapeake donated more than $31 million to charitable organizations and projects throughout its operating areas nationwide, primarily focusing on community development, education, health and social services, the company said in its proxy statement filed with federal regulators earlier this month.
Chesapeake is the largest contributor to United Way of Central Oklahoma, and the company and its employees pledged to donate $6.3 million to local United Way chapters in eight states, according to the filing.
Chesapeake and its CEO have drawn the attention of Wall Street analysts, shareholders groups, politicians and federal regulators since April 18, when it was reported that McClendon had borrowed up to $1.1 billion using his personal stake in Chesapeake wells as collateral.
Later reports indicate that McClendon and SandRidge Energy CEO Tom Ward ran a $200 million hedge fund from 2004 to 2009.
In response to the reports, 11 shareholders groups have filed lawsuits against Chesapeake and the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an informal inquiry.
Friday's meeting was designed to demonstrate the company's contributions to the city and state.
“It's not just about the financial resources they contribute. It's also about all the volunteers they provide for so many nonprofits throughout the state,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. “Because of Chesapeake Energy's support, thousands of our Oklahoma neighbors have food on their table, thousands of children are receiving backpacks of food every weekend and thousands of seniors no longer have to choose between food and medicine.”
Allied Arts Executive Director Deborah McAuliffe Senner said the timing of Friday's meeting was serendipitous because she found out Friday afternoon that Chesapeake will receive the Business Community for the Arts 10 Award presented by Americans for the Arts, given annually to 10 companies nationwide.
“When we went to them several years ago with an idea for them becoming an even larger supporter for the arts, Aubrey was the first to say, ‘Absolutely. Let's get behind this,'” Senner said.
Senner said she was pleased at the large number of organizations that participated in the Chesapeake support meeting.
“Everyone in that room had been impacted by Aubrey's generosity or his genius because he has spread them freely,” Senner said.
“For a city, for a state, just look at all the things that we have achieved with and through Aubrey and his vision and wisdom,” Senner said.
Also in the news
SandRidge CEO discusses report
Chesapeake Energy Corp. co-founder Tom Ward talked about a news report Friday that indicated he and former partner Aubrey McClendon operated a hedge fund inside the company.
Ward, now SandRidge Energy Inc. CEO, said Heritage Management Co. LLC was formed to manage personal investments. It focused on a wide range of commodities, not specifically on energy, he said.
He said his involvement in the fund was “relatively minor.”
“The day-to-day activities of this fund were managed by a group of professionals that were hired by the fund,” Ward said during SandRidge's first-quarter earnings call.
Chesapeake and McClendon still have not commented on the Reuters report.
JAY F. MARKS,
Everyone in that room had been impacted by Aubrey's generosity or his genius because he has spread them freely.”
Deborah McAuliffe Senner