Reba McEntire, the country music queen, has chastised organizers after she was incorrectly billed as a featured guest at a Republican party fundraiser.
McEntire, 66, made the statements on Twitter and denied any involvement in the event. Individual tickets to this Sunday’s cookout started at $500.
“Last night, an invitation to a political fundraiser with my name attached was sent out without my knowledge or permission. I had and have no plans to attend this event and had told the event organizers as such,” McEntire wrote. Singer Red Steagal was also listed on the invitations.
McEntire replied that she would not have said yes since she is not interested in getting engaged in politics.
“Throughout my career, I have stated that I do not get involved in politics and that remains true today,” she wrote.
Journalist Stephen Sanchez announced her attendance at the fundraiser on the internet. He posted a picture of the poster on social media.
Noem’s officials said in a statement that McEntire was aware of the fundraising.
“The Kristi for Governor campaign follows standard operating procedure when it comes to confirming and listing hosts for the Governor’s events,” Ian Fury, a representative from the campaign stated.
Fury affirmed that there was “written confirmation” that McEntire intended to perform, and he expressed that Noem was a “huge fan of Reba.”
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Other political leaders expected to attend the event are Montana Governor Greg Giaforte, Montana Senator Steve Daines, and Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale.
Noem made headlines across the country in 2019 after she was banned from the Pine Ridge Reservation belonging to the Oglala Sioux Tribe has made national news both due to its connection with the Keystone XL pipeline, and its unprecedented nature. On Wednesday leaders of the tribe voted to ban Noem from their homelands. This move comes after Noem announced Senate Bill 189 and Senate Bill 190 which codify “riot boosting” and allow the state to sue those accused of riot boosting during protests.
On the surface, it sounds somewhat reasonable. The state would have the chance to sue activists if violence or lawbreaking occurs at a protest they organized, promoted or otherwise encouraged. Noem claims the bills she signed into law show “…that we will not let rioters control our economic development.” Money gained from these lawsuits would be used to pay for damages incurred and/or law enforcement resources used at a protest where violence or lawbreaking occur. The laws seem to be in response to protests in North Dakota over the Dakota Access pipeline, which cost the state $38 million to police. North Dakota is now suing the federal government to recoup its losses.
The problem lies with the vague definition of “riot boosting” and what it means for free speech and the right to peaceably assemble. As it stands many tribe members feel that they are being prevented from encouraging any kind of protest, including protests that would be perfectly legal. The risk of being accused of riot boosting if a protest that was planned peaceably suddenly winds up breaking laws is the hang-up. It’s unclear what constitutes promoting or otherwise encouraging a protest that might end up going badly. If someone posts a flyer about a planned peaceful protest, but that protest results in arrests and damages, is that considered riot boosting? It’s impossible to know that a protest will become violent or break laws before it has even happened. This is where freedom of speech issues come into play.
The bills were also pushed through state legislature within 72 hours. In the time leading up to the bills, Noem met with TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, but neglected to meet with tribal leaders. The land being used and the resources at risk all belong to the tribe, so the leaders feel particularly offended that they were not offered the same courtesy as the billion-dollar company wanting to “traverse and endanger” their land. Meeting with TransCanada but not the Oglala Sioux Tribe also brings into question possible violations of sovereignty and the tribe’s signed treaty with the United States.
This isn’t the first time tribes in South Dakota have had problems related to the Keystone XL pipeline. Those of us living in this area have seen many injustices and questionable actions taken during the years-long debates and protests over the project. As recently as April 1st of this year President Trump has attempted to issue presidential permits which would circumvent environmental impact study requirements. The history of the Keystone XL pipeline and the related protests goes back almost 12 years.