OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin does not plan to attend a fundraising event for the Garvin County Republican Party that a flier says will include discussion of the Ku Klux Klan, the governor’s spokesman said Wednesday.
Fallin, a Republican who is seeking re-election to a second four-year term, is listed as the guest speaker in a flier distributed by Republican organizers in the southern Oklahoma county for the Aug. 23 “GOP Bean Feed” event featuring a meal of beans and cornbread.
The flier also says discussion among conservative party members at the fundraiser will involve “some things that you may not know about the NRA, Planned Parenthood, Ku Klux Klan and other organizations.”
Fallin’s spokesman, Alex Weintz, said Fallin had never committed to attend the event and that the flier for the fundraiser was not authorized by the governor or her re-election campaign.
“Governor Fallin had never confirmed her attendance at the event,” Weintz said. “Governor Fallin would not attend an event where that subject was a topic of conversation.”
Fallin faces Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman in the Nov. 4 gubernatorial election, and state Democratic leaders used the fundraising event to criticize the Republican incumbent.
“This is a disgusting attempt from the governor to energize her base in the state of Oklahoma,” said Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins.
State Rep. Mike Shelton, a Democrat from Oklahoma City who is black, said, “The only thing the Governor needs to say about the KKK is to denounce their actions, past and present.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Garvin County Republican Party, Allie Burgin, took responsibility for the flap the flier had created.
“I reviewed it. I just didn’t think, I guess,” Burgin said. “It just didn’t ring any alarm bells.”
He said planned discussion about the KKK, which is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, was to focus on how the organization attacked Republican abolitionists, especially southern blacks who joined the party after the Civil War.
But he said he did not realize how much turmoil would be created by the mere mention of the organization.
“I’ve had a few calls today,” Burgin said. He said organizers are recalling the fliers but still plan to go forward with the fundraiser without Fallin in attendance.
“I don’t blame her. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time,” he said.