OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Outside of the Oklahoma Association of General Contractors, citizens held up placards that read “crony capitalism” as contractors entered the building for a fundraising lunch.
The event was to support the re-election of Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“I think it’s pretty clear who the Governor works for,” said Katherine Hirschfeld, one of the protesters. “He works for people who give him large contributions.”
Many of the signs were about the planned expansion to the turnpike.
Many Norman residents have been fighting the expansion, calling it unnecessary and unwanted by local residents.
“Hundreds of homes destroyed, hundreds of families kicked out of their homes,” said Dave Moore, another protester. “Is that right?”
Tuesday’s lunch is an event the General Contractors Association has sponsored for five years.
“Ever since his first election, we’ve supported him because he’s talked about increased infrastructure investment across the state,” said Bobby Stem, executive director of the association.
Donelle Harder, Stitt’s campaign director, said the state is on “sound fiscal ground to fulfill the legislature’s [Oklahoma Turnpike Authority] infrastructure plan enacted into law in 1993.”
“That will give certainty to job creators and deliver efficiencies in expanding highways in the metro areas and increasing access points to rural communities,” said Harder.
Stem was seen handing out waters and snacks to protesters, even as their signs painted his association members in a poor light.
“The process right now is really them speaking their mind and being able to tell publicly how they feel about it. I welcome that,” said Stem.
But the citizens standing outside the event said they see the lunch as a play to pay scheme.
“They are here because this is how they know how to get paving contracts, to support the governor and make great big multi-thousand dollar donations to his campaign,” said Hirschfeld. “For them, this is business as usual.”