Oklahoma official accused of making racist remarks, threats against reporters resigns

A local Oklahoma official resigned on Wednesday after he was accused of making racist remarks and threats against reporters.

Mark Jennings, who has served as a county commissioner for the second district of McCurtain County since 2021, submitted a handwritten resignation letter to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) office saying he is resigning effective immediately, a spokesperson for Stitt said. 

The letter also states that Jennings plans to release a statement “in the near future regarding the recent events in our county.” 

The McCurtain Gazette-News reported on a conversation that Jennings, Sheriff Kevin Clardy, investigator Alicia Manning, Commissioner Robert Beck, commissioners’ secretary Heather Carter, and jail administrator Larry Hendrix had after a March 6 meeting of the county’s board of commissioners. 

During the conversation, of which the newspaper released a series of audio clips and transcripts, Jennings discussed his preference for returning to a time when lynching was allowed. 

“Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got,” he said. 

Jennings, Clardy, and Manning also discuss the idea of hiring hitmen in regard to two journalists. 

“I know where two big deep holes are here if you ever need them,” Jennings said. 

Stitt called for the resignations of Jennings, Clardy, Manning, and Hendrix following the release of the recordings of the conversation. 

The comments have sparked protests in Idabel, Okla., where Jennings is from, and outrage across the state and country. 

The sheriff’s office pushed back on the release of the recordings on Monday, alleging they were altered and illegal as no member of the conversation consented to be recorded. 

Oklahoma recording laws require at least one party in a conversation to consent for the recording to be legal. 

State Sen. George Burns (R), who represents McCurtain County, said in a statement following Jennings’ resignation that he told Jennings and Clardy they needed to resign immediately. He said he also told Clardy that any staff members involved also need to resign. 

Burns said specifically that Clardy, Manning, and Hendrix need to “do the right thing and submit their resignations as well.” 

“I live in McCurtain County, and I want to state emphatically that these horrible comments do not represent the heart and spirit of our citizens,” Burns said. “It’s hurt the county and our state. Innocent people are being impacted. When the words of public servants are so vile that they’re hurting the people they serve, they should no longer hold those positions.” 
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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