A charity flag football game meant to raise money for the family of fallen Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Ron Helus was canceled because a local police chief did not want Republican speakers invited to the event.
Thousands of dollars raised for the Blue Bowl, scheduled to take place last Sunday, is being returned to donors because Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel convinced organizers to withdraw support for the event, KTTV-TV reported.
Hagel reportedly complained to Mike Randall, vice president of the Fallen Officers Foundation, which organized the event, that Republicans speaking at the event was a "serious problem."
"He basically said over and over in the conversation this is not Trump country, that slogan 'Make America Great' is not favorable, popular, within 1,200 square miles, that we don't want Republicans here, I could not believe it," Randal told KTTV. "We were totally floored by this comment, 'the only thing,' and I quote, 'the only thing you coulda made this worse, Mike, was to invite Dick Cheney and Sarah Huckabee Sanders,' and I went...wow are you kidding me?"
However, the speaker schedule was bipartisan and included Trump-supporting Republicans, like actor Scott Baio and singer Joy Villa, as well Democrats, like Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's public safety liaison, KTTV reported.
Hagel told Randall to remove the Republican speakers or else he would convince local organizations, politicians, and other law enforcement agencies to withdraw support. When Randall refused, Hagel made good on his threat.
Now the charity event has been indefinitely postponed.
What was the reaction?
Villa told KTTV she was "appalled" by the "disgusting" anti-Republican actions.
"I was gonna come up from Hollywood to support this, this is not okay, this is prejudice, hello?" she said. "You're shutting down an event because of the way conservatives think, because I support the president? This is disgusting, I'm appalled, and in all my years being an out conservative, I've never seen something so despicable like this."
Randall said, "Ron Helus was a true hero, he saved lives that night, did he run in and go 'Are you Republican or Democrat or independent, I need to know before I help you?' No they don't. ... You've messed with the wrong person, you've messed with the wrong founder, you've messed with the wrong foundation."
Helus, a 29-year-veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, was killed during a horrific mass murder in November 2018 in Thousand Oaks, California,
Meanwhile, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department claimed they withdrew support because they were no longer "comfortable" with the "direction" organizers were steering the event.
The "Blue Bowl" event was represented as a charitable flag football tournament to raise funds for the family of Sergeant Ron Helus. An event that would honor Ron's memory and provide support to his wife Karen and son Jordan. As the event began to materialize, we became concerned with the behavior of some of the organizers of the event. Although I believe the organizers had good intentions, the event was moving in a direction we no longer felt comfortable supporting.