Nothing sends a sitting Governor running away from a fundraiser quite like a Ku Klux Klan controversy.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, was scheduled to appear as the guest speaker at an August 23rd GOP fundraiser in the scarcely populated, overwhelmingly white, deeply Republican Garvin County. … That is, until she saw the invitation.
The Garvin GOP distributed a flyer for the "GOP Bean Feed," featuring on its upper left-hand corner a tiny, dancing bean wearing a sombrero.
The flyer promised that for just $20.00 (or free, if you're under 12) you could enjoy a "great meal" of “beans, cornbread, drinks, and dessert,” and the musings of the "great speaker" Gov. Fallin.
Nothing out of the ordinary ... and then:
Additionally, according to the flyer, the guests would be treated to "great fun and fellowship," which would consist of "discuss[ing] issues with fellow conservatives and find[ing] out some things you may not know about the NRA, Planned Parenthood, Ku Klux Klan, and other organizations."
The Oklahoma Democratic Party wasted no time responding. Chairman Wallace Collins told KFOR.com, "I thought this can't be real, but it is. It really is. I think they were trying to energize their base, the Tea Party base, the right wing nuts, whatever you want to call them. In other words, throw some red meat, raise some money."
Fallin was elected in 2010, and this year has found her family the subject of racial controversy due to her daughter, Christina, a member of an electronic band called Pink Pony. Christina infuriated Native Americans by distributing a photo of herself wearing a headdress, with the caption, "Appropriate Culturation," and then performing in Native American-inspired garb.
The Guv released a statement condemning her own daughter's behavior, and so it comes as no surprise that she was quick to distance herself from the flyer distributed by the Garvin County GOP.
A spokesperson for Fallin, Alex Weintz, made clear that the Guv had pulled out of the engagement: "She would not attend an event where those topics were featured. Our office has nothing to do with that flyer."
But the Garvin GOP believes the controversy is without cause.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, chairman Allie Bugin expressed disappointment in what he called the "out of proportion,” semi-viral reaction to the flyer, labeling it an example of "how the web gets ahold of something, and nobody does the preliminary work on [asking] questions."
Bugin assured that the group did not intend to speak sympathetically about the Ku Klux Klan, but to have an "informational" talk about its history, and how it "was formed to drive Republicans out of the South."
I didn't realize what a hotspot [the KKK is] that just by mentioning it something like this would happen.
The Daily Beast attempted to get ahold of a spokesperson for the Ku Klux Klan, but it turns out that their “Hotlines 24/7” is not as reliable as advertised. But should you feel so inclined, we encourage you to reach out to the Ku Klux Klan to tell them how you feel about their activities. Their hotline number can be found here.
Sincerely, Bugin said, “our President wants us to have a discussion about race, and I think that's a good idea, but nobody can discuss it because of the bomb throwing. … You can't even mention anything having to do with race without being labeled a racist."
But Bugin did acknowledge that the flyer could have been worded better: "I regret the use of the word 'discussion.' … We shouldn't have put that in there without some kind of explanation. I didn't realize what a hotspot [the KKK is] that just by mentioning it something like this would happen."
As for the dancing bean wearing a sombrero, Bugin said, "It's just something I downloaded off of Bing," assuring that it was not "intended to be racist," but, in fact, "I thought it was kind of cute."