Oklahoma’s Governor Under Fire for Support of Cockfighting Industry
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is facing criticism and censure from animal rights groups, as well as political opponents, after a video surfaced of him publicly supporting the state’s illegal cockfighting industry. In the short video, Stitt gave a shoutout to the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission (OGC), a group advocating for reduced penalties for cockfighting activities in the state.
Cockfighting is a brutal practice where spectators place bets on birds fighting to the death, often with miniature hooked razors attached to their talons. The activity was banned in Oklahoma in 2002, but the OGC has been lobbying for its legalization.
Stitt’s public support for the OGC and the cockfighting industry has drawn sharp criticism. Former Republican Governor Frank Keating, who oversaw the ban on cockfighting, called the practice “cruel and backwards” and described Stitt’s behavior as “embarrassing.”
Critics have also pointed to the OGC’s lobbying efforts, which included donations of over $70,000 to Oklahoma lawmakers, including $2,000 to Stitt. The organization has also worked with the legislature to introduce and pass bills related to cockfighting, although none became law.
In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office denied that Stitt supports animal cruelty, stating that he backs “Oklahoma agriculture.” The spokesperson also claimed that Stitt had not seen or endorsed any legislation related to cockfighting.
It is worth noting that despite a slim majority vote to ban cockfighting in 2002, legal challenges delayed the ban’s implementation, and it only came into effect in 2004. The OGC has maintained a consistent lobbying presence ever since.
The controversy surrounding Stitt’s public support for the cockfighting industry has sparked a heated debate in Oklahoma, with animal rights activists and political figures condemning the Governor’s actions and calling for a rejection of the practice.