A fundraiser for a small county's Republican Party created a big stir. The Garvin County Republicans put out a flyer advertising its second annual 'GOP Bean Feed." The flyer indicated the guest speaker for the event would be Governor Mary Fallin. At the bottom of the flyer were topics of discussion promising attendees "information you may not know" about a variety of organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan.
A spokesperson for Governor Fallin says the Garvin county GOP leaders contacted her office some time ago about attending and the officer was considering if she could fit it on her campaign schedule. Spokesman Alex Weintz told Fox 25 the governor's staff decided against her attending when they found out more about the event.
The head of the Garvin County GOP, Allie Burgin, told Fox 25 the entire controversy is his fault because he printed flyers without a written confirmation from the governor's office. Burgin said he never thought the flyer would create such a political firestorm, even ending up as an article on the national news website "Business Insider."
Burgin said the purpose of the discussion about the Ku Klux Klan was to inform voters about the organizations founding and how "Southern Democrats" were tied to its early years. Burgin said he wanted to show how the Republican Party was the party of abolition.
"This is a disgusting attempt from the Governor to energize her base in the state of Oklahoma," said Oklahoma Democratic Chairman Wallace Collins in a news release, "At some point, our friends in the Chamber of Commerce are going to realize that this type of politics is not good for our state, not good for our businesses and not good for the future of Oklahoma."
Weintz said not only was the governor never committed to attending, but that she would never attend an event where such topics would be discussed.
State GOP chair Dave Weston told Fox 25, "As the party of Lincoln and the likes of Susan B. Anthony, we have always been about providing a voice to those who didn't have one. Hence, we were founded upon the principles of abolishing slavery and proving women's suffrage.
Burgin said he is sorry he put out the flyer without getting approval from the governor's campaign staff and that he hopes his mistake does not reflect negatively on her or the party.