UPDATE (6.8.22): The ad at the center of the controversy has been paused.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – GOP General Counsel for Oklahoma, Rex Duncan was fired Monday for his tweets calling out the alleged unethical, and possibly illegal, campaign ad for Governor Kevin Stitt, as well as speaking to the media.
GOP Chair, A.J. Ferate said that he asked Duncan to remove a couple of tweets, but was ignored.
“I felt I had no other recourse than to remove him from the position just simply based on the fact that I don’t know what he’s going to put out next,” said Ferate.
General Counsel for the state’s GOP was a position Ferate held for 12 years. He knows the role well.
Ferate is barely a month into his role as GOP Chair and came into the position with strict rules on voicing opinions.
“Through the primary season, we need to make sure that we as a party are staying out of the primaries and letting the voters decide who is involved,” said Ferate.
But Duncan claimed that as a volunteer for the party, he deserved to speak his mind about party happenings.
Duncan’s tweets were about a recent campaign ad for Governor Kevin Stitt the highlight accomplishments during his term, including the appointment of Attorney General John O’Connor.
In the ad, O’Connor and Stitt are seen together multiple times. Governor Stitt touts the duo’s ability to fight back on vaccine mandates and Roe v. Wade.
“The people deserve to know that whoever wins a full four-year term, as the attorney general, is working for the people, not to repay the governor for helping win the primary race,” said Duncan, a former district attorney.
He claims the ad violates the timeliness of that type of contribution.
“It’s clearly within 30 days of the primary. And I think more problematic, the attorney general is apparently sitting silent, accepting these excessive contributions and doing nothing about it,” said Duncan.
Oklahoma Watch also spoke to Duncan, on the record, about the potential case against Governor Stitt’s campaign ad.
Duncan said that if approval from the new chairman is mandatory before speaking to the media or posting on Twitter, then leaving the position is the right move.
Hours after the article from Oklahoma Watch, a group of bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
In it, they claim that the Governor spent over $300,000 for his campaign ads, the same ones they claim support John O’Connor.
Statutes cited in the letter claim that violating campaign contributions over $5,000 is a felony.
“I have reviewed the serious allegations made by the bipartisan group of legislators. I consider this a serious matter. I will respect the lawmakers’ request and investigate to determine if evidence exists to prove a violation of Oklahoma criminal statutes,” said David Prater, in a statement to KFOR.
Ferate’s main defense is that the language in the campaign ad does not directly support John O’Connor for AG.
“I don’t see anything in the campaign that talks about John O’Connor for attorney general. I see him talking about his attorney general and the accomplishments that he has made with that attorney general,” said Ferate.