Gary Richardson’s latest political ad airing on television stations is stirring up controversy.
Richardson is a Republican candidate for governor in Oklahoma and has pledged to take up the issue of illegal immigration in our state.
The TV ad features the story of beloved former KFOR sportscaster Bob Barry Junior, who was killed in a car accident caused by an illegal immigrant.
“On June 20, 2015, an illegal immigrant kicked out of the country three times killed beloved sportscaster Bob Barry Junior,” the ad said.
“I truly have a heart for the Barrys. I have a heart for the people of Oklahoma," said Richardson Monday afternoon from his law office in Tulsa. "We’re just doing the best we know how to do to help people become aware.”
News 4 is obligated to run a political candidate’s ad as long as it is factual and legal. The ad met both of those requirements.
“It meets all the legal requirements of the FCC," said KFOR General Manager Wes Milbourn. "But, we did mention that we were displeased with their advertising tactics and the exploitation of Bob Barry Junior."
Matt Barry, Bob Barry Junior’s son, sent us this statement about the ad Monday afternoon:
“First and foremost, the Barry Family finds it deeply concerning that Mr. Richardson chose to feature the tragic and untimely death of our Father in his campaign advertisement without seeking consent. The last few years have been a very difficult time for the Barry family as we’re still reeling from this unexpected loss. Although we have no personal dislike for Mr. Richardson or his political ambitions, we find it very troubling that Mr. Richardson ran an advertisement that could imply that the Barry family endorses in any way his election as Governor of the State of Oklahoma. In sum, the Barry family does not appreciate the liberties taken by Mr. Richardson and his campaign; and condemn the utter lack of respect shown towards our tragic loss.”
“We’ve had people offended at other ads we’ve run, you know,” Richardson said. "It’s politics, you know."
Richardson said he was told News 4 would contact the Barry family. Milbourn said he did let them know about the ad the day before it began running.
Richardson said he does not want to cause the Barry family any pain.
“His death is well known around the state," he said. "I mean, you know, a lot of people don’t know how it happened. And, we think it’s good that their eyes have been opened to that."
Richardson said he plans to pull the ads from News 4 but he still plans to run them on other stations.