Oklahoma Republican Party chairman Randy Brogdon apologized Tuesday morning for a statement issued Monday evening that appeared to compare welfare recipients to animals.
The original post has since been deleted from the state GOP’s Facebook page, but it stated the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, distributed a assistance to a record 46 million this year. It went on to compare the distribution of federal aid to feeding animals in national parks.
Brogdon said Tuesday morning the post was “misinterpreted by many,” and apologized to those who were offended.
This post was supposed to be an analogy that compared two situations illustrating the cycle of government dependency in America, not humans as animals.
However I do think that it’s important to have conversations about government welfare programs since our dependency on government is at its highest level ever.
Quoting President Reagan, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”
The post went on to say the state GOP believes in free market principles to stimulate economic development, rather than government subsidies or programs.
“I was doing my best to echo that view,” Brogdon said.
Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement she appreciated the post's removal and accepted Brogdon's explanation.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the agency that administers SNAP benefits in this state, blasted the GOP in its own social media post Tuesday morning. DHS called the comment “appalling and uninformed.”
Obviously you did not bother to know the majority of the 604,000 people receiving food benefits in Oklahoma are people who are aging, people with disabilities (including disabled veterans) and the working poor who are raising children.
The able-bodied adults who do not have children can only receive food benefits for three months if they are unemployed or must work at least 20 hours a week to receive help beyond that point. Last month, only 13,000 or 2.1% of the total recipients were in this category.
Food benefits are a very small amount and are not intended to be a person's entire food budget, thus the name "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program." In fact, the average SNAP benefit is $4.27 per person per day or $1.42 per meal. The people who need this meager benefit are dependent upon it in order to keep themselves and their children from starving. Is that the kind of dependency you are suggesting we discourage?
House Democratic Leader Scott Inman said low wages force thousands of children, senior citizens, as well as teachers, correctional officers, and single mothers to take advantage of government assistance.
“Certainly we should do all we can to reduce the number of our citizens – children, seniors, working mothers and others – who receive food stamps,” the Del City Democrat said in a statement. “But to compare them to animals is insulting, degrading, and not at all in the spirit of Christ. I hope that my friends and colleagues in the OK GOP will denounce posts like this one and instead focus on solutions to the challenges facing our poor and needy.”
Condemnation was swift, even from within Brogdon’s own party. Oklahoma City Republican state Rep. Stephanie Bice called the post “crass and offensive,” and said the comparisons made in the post were “vulgar.”
“Many across our country find themselves needing assistance due to circumstances beyond their control, and we as a community must stand up to help those less fortunate,” Bice said. “Therefore I am challenging each of my Republican friends today to go to your local grocery store and purchase $10 worth of food and deliver it to your local food pantry, and post a pic on social media of your donation.”
Oklahoma City Republican state Sen. David Holt said on Twitter Monday evening Brogdon’s “complete lack of judgment” is “fairly well documented,” and said he spent two months lobbying against keeping embattled GOP official Thomas Clint (T.C.) Ryan in the organization after domestic violence allegations surfaced earlier this year. He also referenced Brogdon's unsuccessful 2014 campaign to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn
Just a reminder that just last year over 95% of OK Republicans rejected Chairman Brogdon at the polls. His views represent virtually no one.
— Senator David Holt (@davidfholt) July 14, 2015
Brogdon is a former state Senator from Owasso who also unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010.