The Corner

Missouri Rodeo Association President Resigns Over Obama Clown Incident

After a rodeo clown wore a facemask bearing President Obama’s likeness at the Missouri State Fair and allegedly asked the crowd if they’d like to see the president run down by a bull, kicking up a major controversy, the announcer at the Saturday event, Mark Ficken, has resigned from his position as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association.

According to Ficken’s attorney, he’s resigned over the MRCA’s handling of criticisms of the event. Ficken especially objects to the fact it hasn’t dissociated with the “rogue rodeo clown” who wore the mask, a man who goes by the name of Tuffy Gessling. Ficken believes the clown “jeopardized the organization” and “ought to be kicked out,” Watkins said. The MRCA has posted an apology on its website

Though the MRCA hasn’t taken any action against him, Gessling was banned yesterday by the State Fair Commission from participating or performing at the event in the future. The commission called the incident an “unconscionable stunt” and said it was reviewing the contract under which the MRCA puts on the taxpayer-funded state fair. Further, the State Fair Commission will require the MRCA to prove that all officials and subcontractors had completed sensitivity training.

National Review Online has reached out to Gessling for comment via his Facebook page, but he has not yet responded.

Ficken’s attorney claims he was unaware that Gessling would be appearing with the mask. In video of the event, a rodeo clown can be heard addressing Ficken over the sound system, asking if he had been informed of the “famous helper” they were going to have that evening; Ficken replies that he had not. Early press reports mistakenly said it was Ficken who had whipped the crowd up and asked them if they’d like to see the president run down by a bull.

Ficken says he has been physically threatened since the incident. The Boonville School District, of which Ficken serves as superintendent, has said that it will investigate whether he was involved.

The incident created a political firestorm around the state and on the Internet: Lieutenant governor Peter Kinder (a Republican) took to Twitter to denounce the stunt and demand that Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, “hold people responsible.” Senator Claire McCaskill called the incident “shameful.”

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