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Oklahoma congressional candidate operated museum at loss

Published: June 14, 2012

TULSA (AP) — The candidate who's challenging U.S. Rep. John Sullivan for his congressional seat operated the Tulsa Air and Space Museum at a near-$383,000 loss during his time as executive director.

Republican Jim Bridenstine worked at the museum from December 2008 to August 2010 and says the loss was due largely to a multiyear campaign to lure one of the four retiring NASA space shuttles to Tulsa. They ultimately went to other cities. The museum operated in the black in 2007.

Bridenstine says he left the job in 2010 to fly counterdrug missions in the Navy Reserve and accuses his political opponents of “cherry-picking” numbers on the museum's tax forms.

Museum executives credit Bridenstine with increasing attendance and visibility while he was there, but did not comment further.