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Friday, September 24, 2010

3 Card Monte From the Fallin Campaign

I have written blogs that went after candidates in the past and one campaign in particular has asked me to contact them if there were any questions before I published.  So, I did.  I had a question of the Fallin campaign and before I wrote a word, I received a response.

In truth, what I received was a game of 3 Card Monte with the truth.

In a story that actually broke on Demookie.com, an Askins staffer was asked to leave an event sponsored by the Regents for Higher Education because if he didn't leave, Congresswoman Fallin would not take the podium.  Who was this staffer for Askins?

A former State Senate leader, Mike Morgan.

This is what was written on the Demookie.com website:
Fallin Wont Take the Podium Until Opposition is Removed from the Room

Yesterday the Jim Thorpe Museum was host to the annual President’s Forum, a gathering of University and College Presidents, the Board of Regents, and a handful of other dignitaries and invited guests. Speaking before this distinguished audience were the two candidates for governor, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, and Congresswoman Mary Fallin. The format for the event was that Fallin would first deliver remarks, then take questions, and then Askins would do the same.

However, just before she was to begin, Fallin made a strange request of the event organizers; she didn’t want the Lieutenant Governor in the room while she spoke. Nor did she want any of Jari’s staff in the room. In fact, she even scanned the crowd for faces that might be unfriendly, to see who else she could have ejected. Apparently she didn’t like the look on State Senator Mike Morgan’s face, because she told the event organizers she would not take the podium until he had left the room.

Senator Morgan was a guest of the event. He was seated at a table enjoying his lunch, until he was unceremoniously asked to gather up his things and leave the room until it became Jari’s turn to address the crowed, at which point he was welcome to re-take his seat.

This kind of behavior, from a candidate for governor no less, is both paranoid and more than a little ridiculous. As a public official she’s going to have to get used to being in a room full of people who agree and those who disagree with her. To petulantly refuse to take the podium until everyone who might be unfriendly to her way of thinking has been ejected from the event isn’t the kind of behavior this blogger is willing to accept from an elected official. This isn’t Soviet Russia, it’s Oklahoma.

As a side note, if memory serves, one of the issues Fallin primary opponent Randy Brogdon was most passionate about was transparency in government. Hopefully his supporters have noticed that Fallin is no fan of transparency, going so far as to have people thrown out of a forum because they might not like what it is she has to say. For shame!

When the story broke on the Democratic forum, I sent Alex Weintz, spokesperson from the Fallin campaign, an email asking one simple question:  Is this true?

His response on September 22, 2010, 2:25pm...  "That is absolutely not true.  Who wrote this?"

This is the story in the Tulsa World (Here) (emphasis, mine): 

Askins staffer asked to leave lunch

by: BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, September 24, 2010
9/24/2010 7:10:12 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY - Former state Senate leader Mike Morgan said Thursday that he was embarrassed after being prodded to leave an event at which U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin was scheduled to speak.

Morgan, a Democrat from Stillwater, said he was attending an event sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The event included a lunch at which gubernatorial candidates Fallin, a Republican, and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, a Democrat, were speaking.

Morgan said he was scheduled to participate on a panel after the lunch.

Morgan, who is affiliated with the Askins campaign and has spoken on her behalf, said he was approached by a member of the regents staff and told that there was an agreement between the two candidates that no staff members from Askins' campaign would be present when Fallin was speaking and vice versa.

Morgan said he was told that Fallin would not speak if he was in the room.

"I took my sandwich and went to the lobby," he said. "I was embarrassed. I complied because I didn't want to make a scene."

Regents spokesman Ben Hardcastle said, "We simply advised him of what we were told was the agreement between the two campaigns."

Askins' campaign manger, Sid Hudson, said there was no agreement regarding opposing staff members' attendance. Hudson used to work for Morgan in the Senate.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said someone with the Fallin campaign brought the issue to the attention of the regents' staff.

"We went there thinking an agreement had been made with the regents and the Askins campaign," he said. "If there wasn't, then it was a misunderstanding."

Weintz said the issue had nothing to do with the fact that Morgan might disagree with Fallin.

"We don't always have agreements like that," he said. "Sometimes, when you know you are going to speak to a group, you can address their issues and speak candidly."
Feeling as though I have been bamboozled, hoodwinked and flim-flammed, I contacted the young man from the Fallin campaign and this was Alex sent me:

You asked me earlier this week if a blog post bashing Mary was true. I obviously disagree with the spin and the interpretation of events that were conveyed in that post and I still do. 
After the Tulsa World and the Oklahoman contacted me yesterday I circled back around and tried to get all the facts straight (I was not actually at this event). I conveyed those facts to their reporters as accurately as I could and this is the first contact I've had with you since then. I did not lie to you, never have and never will.
Spin.  He didn't like the spin so his initial response was, "That is absolutely not true." He "circled back around" to get the facts straight after the mainstream media contacted him about the stories that were sourced, more than likely, from the Demookie website.  Classic establishment Republican responses from people who want us to believe the hype their candidate is pushing down our necks.

To me, this kind of crap is what was expected from the Gene Stipe-era Democrats, not from this new, bold and beautiful Republican establishment posing as Constitutional conservatives.

So, you tell ME.  Did Alex lie to me or not? 

How did the story change so significantly in the last 24 hours?  I know I'm just a former talk show host, blogger and all around annoying guy...and I probably don't deserve the truth from a spokesperson from the Fallin campaign.  I'm just a regular guy like you.  I don't work for the Oklahoman nor do I work for the Tulsa World. 

But if Alex is willing to put some serious spin on a story like this, imagine what the campaign will do when the rest of us regular Joe's ask some questions...

But, I suppose this is what statewide campaigns have come down to, haven't they?