Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fallin Defends Campaign's Lobbyist Meeting

A meeting between Mary Fallin's lead consultant and pollster and Capitol lobbyists and political action committee representatives, first revealed by The McCarville Report Online, is drawing criticism in some quarters today.

Fallin defended the meeting, saying it was simply an effort to inform insiders about the status of the gubernatorial race.

"We frequently get asked about where we're at the campaign, what our plan is and strategy to win,” Fallin told The Oklahoman's Michael McNutt.

"One thing that I think is important to do as a person who hopes to be governor of the state of Oklahoma is to reach out to different associations, different groups,” she said.

Fallin, of Oklahoma City, said the meeting should not be viewed as lobbyists and special interest groups being placed ahead of others. She did not attend the meeting, which featured Fallin's Washington consultant and pollster Ed Goeas.

"I've been traveling all across the whole state of Oklahoma,” she said after a forum in Enid. "We've been reaching out to all groups.”

Senator Randy Brogdon, who also is seeking the Republican nomination in the July 27 gubernatorial primary election, said he was troubled by the meeting.

"That's almost as if in your face, look who's going to be running the state,” said Brogdon, R-Owasso. "I know that undue influence from lobbyists and special interests is alive and well at the Capitol, and for a gubernatorial candidate just to come right out and say it is shocking.”

Fallin's campaign manager, Denise Northrup, sent a note last month to lobbyists and those with political action committees and special interest groups inviting them to the meeting, saying "as a stakeholder in the process, you will play a vital role in moving Oklahoma forward next year with new leadership in the House, Senate and Governor's office.”

"For anyone to consider special interest groups, lobbyists and PACs to be the stakeholders in Oklahoma, I could not disagree more,” Brogdon told The Oklahoman. "I believe the citizens of Oklahoma are the stakeholders of Oklahoma.”

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