Reba the last to know about Noem fundraiser

GALLATIN GATEWAY, Mont. –– Montana fundraiser for Gov. Kristi Noem hit a sour note with a country music superstar.

A promotional announcement for a Sunday barbecue for the South Dakota governor, with Reba McEntire advertised as one of two country singers scheduled to appear. That was news for McEntire.

Reba, as she is known to millions of fans, has found success on the charts, on stage, TV and in the movies, but she has not been involved in politics over her four-decade career.

Reporter Steven Sanchez, a former CBS New assignment editor based in Washington, D.C., broke the story. Sanchez included a poster of the event set for Sunday at the Spur Cross Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Mont. It features a color drawing of Noem in cowboy garb, riding a horse and carrying the American flag, as she has done at some rodeo events in South Dakota and Texas.

The fundraiser is to be hosted by Mike and Sheila Ingram and the published guest list includes several prominent Montana Republicans, including Gov. Greg Gianforte, Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Matt Rosendale as well as singer/entertainer Red Steagall, who has long-standing ties to McEntire. Her name also was on the poster.

But on Friday morning, McEntire, 66, made it clear on Twitter that she will not attend and did not give permission for her name to be used to promote the event.

She said the people in charge need to heed one of her most famous songs and “Take It Back.”

“Last night, an invitation to a political fundraiser with my name attached was sent out without my knowledge or permission,” she said. “I had and have no plans to attend this event and had told the event organizers as such. Throughout my career, I have stated that I do not get involved in politics and that remains true today.”

McEntire did not disclose who used her name.

Ian Fury, Noem’s communications director, said the country legend’s name was provided by the organizers, not the Noem team.

“The Kristi for Governor campaign follows standard operating procedure when it comes to confirming and listing hosts for the governor’s events,” Fury said. “That includes written confirmation. The procedures were followed in this instance. I’d add that the governor is a huge fan of Reba.”

He declined to answer why McEntire said her name was being used without her permission.

“I’m not going to speak for Reba,” Fury said.

In 2017, during an interview for the TV talk show “The View,” McEntire said she would not make her politics publicly known.

She said people “paid their hard-earned money to come in there and fill a seat, parking, getting something at the concession stand, going to eat before the concert and I am there to entertain them to take their worries away from them, so when they walk out, they can kinda have a little lift in their step and just go, ‘Ah, that was such a great break from all the problems that I have to deal with during daily life.’ So, I am not gonna give them my political views. It’s not my place.”

Mike Ingram is a real-estate developer who also operates a horse-breeding business at their Montana ranch. The Ingrams also have been involved in Republican politics, hosting a fundraiser for Ben Quayle more than a decade ago when he was running to represent Arizona’s 3rd District in Congress.

Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, served a single term in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011-13 but was defeated for re-election. He now works as a lobbyist.

The Ingrams also have established a scholarship to students at the Southern Nazarene University School of Theology & Ministry.

The event also lists several co-hosts, including former Montana state Sen. Jim Peterson; Tim and Mary Barnard — Tim Barnard is the founder and chairman of Bozeman-based Barnard Companies, Inc., a prominent heavy civil contracting firm; Ralph and Fay Ferraro — Ralph Ferraro owns a Bozeman, Mont., bar/restaurant; Mike Hope of RJM Holdings, a Phoenix real estate investment firm, and his wife Kristen; as well as others.

A couple can be added to the Host Committee by donating or raising $8,000 to the Noem for Governor campaign. That will include photos at 4:30 p.m. before the barbecue is served at 5:30 p.m.

There are “cheaper” tickets available — $500 per person, or $1,000 per couple. No photos are promised but presumably there will be quality barbecue served at that price.

The Noem campaign can accept corporate donations of up to $4,000. The first-term Republican governor, who served two terms in the state House of Representatives before being elected to four terms in Congress, is running for re-election in 2022.

“Rumor Has It” — to quote a Reba hit song — Noem is a potential presidential or vice-presidential candidate in 2024, especially after making numerous appearances at Republican and conservative events around the country. It seems like she is gone “Every Other Weekend,” to evoke another Reba classic.

But Noem insists she has no national political ambitions. “Fancy” that, Reba fans.

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