Congressional candidate Terry Neese has long maintained she withdrew her name for consideration to lead the U.S. Mint 15 years ago because she wanted to spend more time with her family. But two days before her Senate confirmation hearing, Neese was summoned to the White House personnel office where officials told her they would no longer support her nomination because of the discovery of training tapes she made for her employees that encouraged them to lie and use unethical behavior.
In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Neese to become director of the U.S. Mint, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury responsible for producing coinage.
Despite spending several weeks in Washington D.C. to prepare for her confirmation hearing, Neese withdrew her name one day before the hearing process was scheduled to begin before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
Neese said being in Washington to prepare for the confirmation process had convinced her she didn’t want to leave her family, a reason she has maintained.
“Sometimes family has to intervene and for me it was about my mom,” Neese said at a recent candidate debate hosted by NonDoc, addressing her decision not to take the appointment.
But Neese was asked by the Bush administration to withdraw her name after a person sent copies of tapes she used to train her employees at her former staffing agency in Oklahoma City, according to multiple sources who worked for the White House and for the Senate Banking Committee, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to bring political attention to their current employers.
Two Bush administration officials met with Neese on Sept. 17, 2005, and told her she had less than 24 hours to withdraw her name, according to a former White House official.
Neese’s campaign has turned down multiple interview requests from The Frontier.
Neese, a Republican, is currently running for Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district, which includes much of Oklahoma City and is currently represented by Democrat Rep. Kendra Horn.
At a candidate debate hours after this story originally published, Neese called the story “an absolute lie” and would not say if it were her on the tapes.
Neese will face State Sen. Stephanie Bice in the Republican primary runoff on Aug. 25, with the winner advancing to the Nov. 3 general election.
After turning down the U.S. Mint position, Neese said she had passed an “exhaustive FBI investigation, an IRS review and the Office of Government Ethics requirements.”
But the training tapes were discovered after a former employee of Neese sent the tapes to the White House. The former employee also included an anonymous letter. Copies of both have been obtained by The Frontier.
In the training tapes Neese told her employees several times to lie when communicating with a client, make pretend phone calls, promise clients unconfirmed raises and to “manipulate people 24 hours a day.”
“Terry had a very high turnover rate in her agency, as people found it difficult to apply the principles outlined on the tapes, and to function in the highly critical and unethical environment that existed in the agency,” the author of the letter wrote to the White House.
The Frontier confirmed the identity of the former employee and the authenticity of the tapes but agreed not to publicly identify the person because they feared retaliation.
The letter’s author said they “laughed” when Neese ran for state lieutenant governor in the 1990’s but wrote in 2005 that, “Today we are faced with a very different story and it is no longer funny. The President’s nomination of Terry Neese to the Director of the United States Mint prompted me to get the tapes from my friend in Oklahoma.”
“Terry gets away with many, many charades because of her self-confident demeanor and her pure aggressiveness. No one wants to question her … they wouldn’t dare. You’ll hear this trait on her tapes,” the author wrote.
In the nearly two hours of tape, Neese regularly told her employees to make fake phone calls if someone is in their office to make it appear they are working to find them a job.
“If you don’t have a job order, pick up the telephone, dial your home phone number or call a number where you know no one will answer. You are going to make a fake phone call,” Neese said.
“This is where Hollywood and acting becomes a big part of this business.”
Neese also told her employees how to lie in order to get another company’s employee directory so she could recruit their workers.
When job seekers had children, Neese told her employees to tell a potential employer they had child care, even if they didn’t.
“Many times I will also create an aunt or an uncle, a grandmother or mother, someone in town who will take care of them in case they get sick, especially if they have a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old or real young children who have to be in a nursery,” Neese said.
During her congressional campaign, Neese has presented herself as a political outsider but often points to her history of political influence, including her appointment to lead the U.S. Mint.
Neese has always said it was her decision to withdraw her nomination but in 2007, during an interview for the Oklahoma State University oral history project, Neese referenced attempts to derail her nomination.
“Any time you are put up for a nomination like this it is interesting the people who come out of the woodwork who want to try to dive-bomb your confirmation,” Neese said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a response from Terry Neese when she was asked about the report at a candidate debate on Aug. 18, 2020.