VEEP writers, file this one away for next season.
But this wasn’t just any drone or fundraiser. The craft was launched by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), an Illinois-based animal rights group that opposes pigeon hunts, among other things. Guess what was happening at the fundraiser? Yes, you guessed it: pigeon hunting.
SHARK said the drone was recording the event in Greer County, Okla. from high above the ground when it was shot down by a high-powered rifle. The group is accusing the Inhofe gathering of destroying thousands of dollars in private property along with a variety of ethics violations. Last week, SHARK members protested in front of Inhofe’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices, calling the senator an “animal serial killer,” reported the Tulsa World.
Inhofe chief of staff and campaign spokesman Ryan Jackson dismissed SHARK’s claims, refusing to confirm the drone was downed by the senator’s shooting party — or any other details of the incident.
“We believe that people who do bad things don’t want you to see,” said Stu Chaifetz, an investigator with SHARK. “So when a fundraiser like this is being done in a remote farm and the only way to see it is from above, we believe that is an excellent use of this technology.”
There’s a certain irony to the downing of the drone. Not only is a landmark drone bill coming out this week in the Senate, but Inhofe is the Republican co-founder of the Senate’s drone caucus — otherwise known as the “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Caucus” that worries about the impact of drones on citizens’ privacy.
Jackson called SHARK a “fringe” group that doesn’t produce results.
“This group has contacted between last year and this year everyone from the FEC, local and state Oklahoma law enforcement, and the Senate ethics committee,” Jackson wrote in an e-mail.
“They are of their own admission anti-hunting and anti-rodeo, and they are an out of state, fringe organization that claims and alleges all kinds of things, none of which have resulted in anything or will. They left with their drone so I can’t confirm any of their claims on that either.”