A newspaper’s audio recording purportedly captured some county officials grumbling about two of the paper’s journalists and claiming to know where two holes are dug and have connections to hit men, prompting Oklahoma’s governor to demand their resignations.
It appears that one of the four makes racist slurs about Black people on the recording, which was released in part by the tabloid.
On Sunday, Governor Kevin Stitt said he would ask Sheriff Kevin Clardy of McCurtain County to retire, along with Captain Alicia Manning of the sheriff’s department, Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix, and Commissioner Mark Jennings.
After the March 6 county commission meeting, the McCurtain Gazette obtained excerpts from an audio tape in which Manning, Clardy, and Jennings can be heard discussing reporters Bruce and Chris Willingham. If Clardy and Manning need two deep holes, Jennings can show them.
The sheriff chimes up, “I have an excavator.”
It also sounds like Jennings is upset that she doesn’t have the authority to “hang Black people” because “they got more rights than we got.”
According to a spokesman, the FBI office in Oklahoma City does not comment on pending investigations. A spokesman for Attorney General Drummond, Phil Bacharach, said an audio recording had been received and an investigation was underway, but he would not elaborate.
On Monday, a crowd of over a hundred people gathered in front of the County Courthouse, many demanding the resignation of the sheriff and other county authorities.
Bruce Willingham, the longtime McCurtain Gazette publisher, said the audio was recorded on March 6 with a voice-activation device he left inside the room after a county commissioners meeting. He was suspicious that the group was conducting county business after the meeting concluded. This violates the state’s Open Meeting Act.
Bruce Willingham’s son Chris works as a reporter for the paper.