U.S. Senate Republican candidate Matt Bevin is drawing some controversy for speaking at a pro-cockfighting rally last weekend, despite the Tea Party favorite denying he knew the event had anything to do with the brutal sport.

While his campaign reportedly billed the Saturday event as a “states rights rally,” organizers said its sole purpose was to promote the legalization of the violent animal sport, according to the News Journal.

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R-Ky), speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky, Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R-Ky), speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky, Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

“The movement is about changing the law, not breaking the law,” said Michael Devereaux, Director of the Gamefowl Defense Network, the organizer of the event.

He added on Facebook that it was held “for the purpose of unifying and uniting gamefoul enthusiasts around the principle of using the democratic process to change the law, not break the law.”

Cockfighting is currently illegal in all 50 states.

Bevin, however, denies knowing the event was based around cockfighting.

“I was the first person to speak and then I left,” Bevin told the Journal. “They knew I was here. They asked if I would be interested in speaking. I’m a politician running statewide, any chance I get to speak to a few hundred people I’m going to take it.”

“I’m a politician running statewide, any chance I get to speak to a few hundred people I’m going to take it.”
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But others aren’t buying that explanation. A spokeswoman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who Bevin is running to unseat, said the explanation doesn’t add up.

“Only Matt Bevin would go to a cockfighting rally and claim he didn’t know what they were doing there,” Allison Moore told Fox News, adding that “at this point nothing surprises us with this guy.”

His appearance has also drawn the ire of animal rights activists, with Michael Markarian, the president of the Humane Society legislative fund, telling Fox News that speaking at such a rally is “appalling.”

“It shows terrible judgment for a politician to associate with an organized criminal network of cockfighters,” Markarian said.

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