Eileen Wunderlich, Chrysler’s marketing communications officer, confirmed to Automotive.com via email that, “Dodge will not re-hide the second vehicle. I don’t yet have any updates at this time, other than to say that there is no need to change the program rules.”
On Wednesday, Automotive.com broke an exclusive story about alleged controversy concerning Brad Neidy, the winner of Dodge’s second Journey search. The rumors circulating on Dodge’s YouTube channel and Facebook fan page alleged that Neidy, a Troop Commander for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, had improperly used OHP assets to win the contest.
Neidy has since declined the prize, an act that many felt proved his guilt. But we also heard back this afternoon from Captain Chris West, Public Affairs officer for Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Instead of releasing an official statement, Capt. West gave us a more informal “here’s what happened” story.
According to Capt. West, the OHP contracted with a production company on August 26, 2011, to work security for a Dodge commercial in Clinton, Oklahoma. Capt West confirmed to us that Captain Brad Neidy was not present for that shoot, and that none of the officers were aware of what had been filmed.
Last weekend, when Dodge dropped hints regarding the second Journey’s location, Neidy became interested in the contest. As the hints closed in on Western Oklahoma, an area that not only had Neidy worked for more than thirty years, but where his father, also a trooper, had worked for more than twenty years. Neidy put one and one together, and zeroed in on the location.
Concerning the allegations, Capt. West put to rest the idea that Neidy improperly used OHP air assets, or knew of the location beforehand.”Those rumors are completely bogus,” he said. “I have known Brad Neidy for a long time, and no one is questioning his integrity.”
In fact, Capt. West notes that Colonel Kerry Pettingill, Commander of the OHP, would not have objected “if he kept the prize.”
So, why then did Neidy decline the Journey?
Capt. West said he had spoken with Neidy, who was aware of the rumors and the perception that he had cheated, but that Neidy declined the prize because he didn’t want the negative publicity for the department had he kept it.
Automotive.com’s take: This is one of those issues where it’s difficult to separate work from play. No one, including Neidy, knew that the Journey would show up in Oklahoma. But because of his professional engagements, Neidy had exclusive information and intimate knowledge of the area. So while he didn’t have knowledge of the location beforehand, he was able to use prior knowledge to his advantage.
As for Dodge, we weren’t able to uncover why they won’t re-hide the declined Journey, but we know there’s going to be a lot of upset fans. The fate of the second vehicle is unknown.
Sources: Chrysler, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Clinton Daily News