Oklahoma governor’s inauguration festivities exceed $2.4M

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/18/2019 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The inaugural committee for Oklahoma’s new Republican governor spent more than $2.4 million on inauguration festivities to launch his first term in office, a finance report revealed.

Gov. Kevin Stitt took office in January to become Oklahoma’s 28th governor.

The report filed July 11 indicates Stitt’s inauguration celebrations cost was more than former Gov. Mary Fallin spent on both of her inauguration festivities combined, which was $2.36 million, The Oklahoman reported.

Stitt’s committee used all of the $2,471,900 that was raised from contributed funds and ticket sales, exhausting residual funds in his inaugural account.

Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for Stitt, said the events were “wildly successful” as people packed each one to see him.

“The big difference was that the governor wanted to make sure that he was out engaging the communities in all aspects of the event,” she said. “So, we had multiple events to celebrate the inauguration and worked to accommodate as many people as possible into our venues. We had a very grand inaugural, a very celebratory inaugural with the goal of making sure we connected with as many people as possible out in the state.”

Oklahoma tribes, major local businesses and oil companies were the top contributors to Stitt’s campaign, which was entirely funded by private donations.

QuikTrip, a Tulsa-based convenience store chain, donated the most to Stitt’s inaugural committee, giving $100,000, the report showed.

The Chickasaw and Cherokee Nations respectively gave $75,000. Stitt is Oklahoma’s first governor who is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation.

The committee’s largest outlay was $897,731 to Eventures Inc., which helped plan the inaugural festivities.

Stitt’s inaugural group also donated some excess funds to several Oklahoma charities, including $121,478 to Friends of the Mansion, which manages the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion.

The governor held pre-inaugural events in Lawton, Jenks and Tulsa. His inaugural ball was in an Oklahoma City ballroom, which costed an estimated $208,392 to rent.

Attendees were required to buy tickets for many of Stitt’s celebration events. Tickets for Stitt’s inaugural ball were $250 per person, which was at least $100 more than what Fallin charged for tickets to either of her inaugural balls.

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