Oklahoma GOP roiled by infighting as conference looms

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – As Republicans prepare for some of the party’s biggest names to descend on Oklahoma for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the state party is being rocked by infighting over its new chairman’s decision to retain a staffer who pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge.

Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, a tea party favorite who ousted the incumbent GOP chairman last month, has publicly defended his hiring of Thomas Clint Ryan, who court records show pleaded guilty in 2012 to domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interference with an emergency telephone call, both misdemeanors.

“The Republican Party is the Party of hope and second chances,” Brodgon said in a statement Wednesday. “We have many members from diverse backgrounds, some with a sorted (sic) past who have found a home in the GOP, as a volunteer, in an appointed position, or as an elected official.”

After several elected Republican officials criticized Ryan’s appointment as the party’s executive director, Brogdon announced he was making Ryan political director, a move that angered several members who had called for Ryan’s resignation.

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