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Some execs call for new leadership at Oil and Gas Association


A pump jack east of Carlsbad in Lea County last year. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – About a dozen executives with ties to the oil and gas industry are calling for the removal of Ryan Flynn as executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, citing favorable comments he made about a Democratic congresswoman who represents part of the Permian Basin.

The letter, sent to association board chairman Scott Kidwell, comes on the heels of an opinion column sent to local media by the state’s Republican legislative leadership and the state GOP chair also blasting Flynn and some of NMOGA’s recent actions.

Ryan Flynn

In the three-page letter, the executives of several independent oil producers – including Harvey Yates Jr., a member of the Republican National Committee and president of an oil and gas company – accused Flynn of supporting political candidates who are adversaries of the industry.

They cited favorable comments Flynn made about U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat whose district covers the oil patch in southeastern New Mexico. She is locked in a tight reelection race with former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo.

The board of the Oil and Gas Association, in turn, said it supports Flynn and remains committed to working with government leaders regardless of their political affiliation.

“The Board of Directors stands firmly behind Ryan Flynn and the work that NMOGA has done to advance the oil and gas industry in these challenging times,” the board said in a joint statement released by spokesman Robert McEntyre.

Flynn has made positive comments about both major-party candidates in the 2nd Congressional District. In Torres Small’s case, he told the Associated Press last week that she had been a strong advocate for the state’s energy interests and “stood up to those in her party who want to completely ban fracking.”

Earlier this week, he said Herrell had also “demonstrated a favorable record during her service in the Roundhouse,” referring to her eight years as a state legislator.

The letter from Yates and others describes Flynn’s statement about Torres Small as outrageous and inaccurate. They also slam the association for having donated $25,000 to a political committee run by state House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.

“When Mr. Flynn and NMOGA start playing politics and supporting those who are not only detrimental to our state, but our livelihoods and the future of our children,” the executives said, “we cannot and will not remain silent.”

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association board said Friday that it would “continue to work with federal, state and local leaders, regardless of their political affiliation, who share our commitment to New Mexico’s economy, schools and communities.”

Among the companies whose executives signed the letter are Strata Production Co., Worrall Investment Corp., Harvard Petroleum Corp., Integrated Petroleum LLC, Santo Petroleum and Jalapeño Corp.

Yates, president of Jalapeño Corp., is a Republican national committeeman, but his term ends later this month.

The critical letter comes after state Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce called for Flynn’s dismissal earlier this week. He and Republican legislative leaders authored an opinion column published in the Journal this week accusing the association of acting as a “political weapon” in the congressional race, among other criticism of Flynn.

Flynn, who has led the association since 2016, served as environment secretary in the Republican administration of former Gov. Susana Martinez.

The association has about 1,000 members. Some of the executives who signed the Flynn letter work for companies that are not members of the association.

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