Former state Rep. Kevin Calvey (R), who is running in Oklahoma’s 5th district, issued a scathing press release Tuesday announcing his refusal to accept a $25 donation from the executive director of the Oklahoma branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“CAIR is a hypocritical organization that sympathizes with Islamic extremists and I do not want to have anything to do with them or their money,” Calvey said in the release.
In a brief interview Tuesday morning, Razi Hashmi acknowledged that he attempted to make the donation, which Calvey said was made online on June 10. But Hashmi did not say why he tried to give money to a man who has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of CAIR.
In January, Calvey organized a protest of a meeting of the Oklahoma branch of CAIR and attacked the group for what he said were its ties to terrorist organizations. Calvey has called CAIR a front organization for Hamas.
According to local press reports, Hashmi then attempted to have a face-to-face meeting with Calvey to try to engage in a dialogue with the former state Representative. But Calvey refused unless Hashmi denounced CAIR.
Some other candidates in the 5th district race, including college professor James Lankford, criticized Calvey over the matter.
“If CAIR moves from free speech to treason and conspiracy, they should be arrested and prosecuted,” Lankford said in a March article in the Edmond Sun. “Until that time, I would hope anyone would deal with these issues honestly and leave all political posturing aside.”
Calvey consultant Trebor Worthen said Tuesday that it was “very suspicious” that a leader of a group that Calvey has been so critical of would want to contribute to his campaign.
“In a few days the finance reports will be released, and everybody will be able to see who’s donating to who and maybe that will give us some more information on who else the group has been supporting,” Worthen said. “Regardless of whatever his motivation was we don’t want to accept any contribution from any group or anyone associated with a group that has terrorist ties.”
Hashmi said he was acting in his personal capacity when he tried to give the money and that the donation was not made on behalf of CAIR, a 501(c)(3) that is legally barred from making political donations.
The 5th district, now held by Rep. Mary Fallin (R), who is running for governor, is a safe Republican seat in Oklahoma City. Calvey, an attorney and Iraq War veteran who prosecuted terrorists in the Iraqi court system during his time overseas, is facing a half-dozen other Republicans in the state’s July 27 primary. State Rep. Mike Thompson (R) appears to be Calvey’s best-funded competitor, but Lankford has also shown some fundraising prowess.
CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper denounced Calvey’s press release Tuesday as an attempt to score some political points by bashing Muslims.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a phenomenon of extremist right-wing politicians seeking to get some cheap publicity, particularly in primary races, by pandering to the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our society,” Hooper said. Calvey “has a long history of Muslim bashing and Islamophobia and it doesn’t surprise me a bit that he would take this opportunity to once again reach the bigot constituency he is apparently appealing to.”