Missouri State Fair announcer could lose school job after Obama clown incident

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by KMOV.com staff and Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 14 at 10:00 AM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The man who announced the Obama rodeo clown incident at the Missouri State Fair could soon find out whether he gets to keep his job as head of a central Missouri school district.

The Boonville School Board will have a special meeting Tuesday night. During the meeting, school board members will discuss Mark Ficken involvement in having a clown wear a mask of Obama and asking the spectators if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.”

Many in the audience responded enthusiastically.

Ficken maintains he had no advance knowledge of the widely-criticized act and his attorney said the clown went rogue.

“I want everyone to understand and appreciates that not only is my client not responsible for what was said but he was not responsible for urging it on, for playing along, for going along with it in fact he was sitting there trying to figure out a way to put an end to it,” said St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins, representing Ficken.

Ficken has already stepped down as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and Tuesday’s meeting could determine if he’ll remain as superintendent of the Boonville School District.

The Saturday rodeo act at the fair in Sedalia has been criticized by both Democratic and Republican officials in Missouri as disrespectful of Obama.

The antics led the state’s second highest-ranking official, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, to denounce the performance in a tweet Sunday. He said it was “disrespectful” to the president.

“We are better than this,” the Republican tweeted.

State Fair officials said the show in Sedalia was “inappropriate” and “does not reflect the opinions or standards” of the fair. “We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday’s rodeo badly missed that mark,” they said in a statement Sunday. 

Officials on Monday permanently banned the rodeo clown from participating in the fair again.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said in a statement on her website, “If what’s being reported is true, then it’s shameful and it’s unacceptable.”

Scott Holste, spokesman for Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, said Sunday in an email that Nixon “agrees that the performance was disrespectful and offensive, and does not reflect the values of Missourians or the State Fair.”

Watkins described his client as a “beleaguered school superintendent” who has been inundated with retaliatory actions because of the conduct of a “rogue rodeo clown.” He said Ficken’s only comment during the event was to say, “Watch out for that bull Obama!” Watkins said that was meant as a warning for the rodeo clown’s safety as a bull was nearing him.

News 4 continues to follow this story and will have updates as they become available.

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