“This is not Trump country…”
VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. – A major fundraising event for the family of a fallen officer was put on hold indefinitely after the police chief of the California department found out that Republican figureheads would be speaking at the event.
Now, donations that had been made to help support the family are being returned and it’s unclear when or if the event will be rescheduled for a new date.
Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus died in on November 7, 2018 after a mass shooter opened fire in the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, killing 13 people and wounding approximately 12 others. The suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but Helus was tragically killed during the shooting.
The Blue Bowl event was created as a charity flag football game aimed at raising funds for the family of Sgt. Helus and other fallen officers that have been killed in the line of duty.
But after seeing the list of performers and special guest speakers, Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel apparently pulled his support, completely withdrawing the department from the event, according to a report from FOX 11 Los Angeles.
Why? Because a few prominent Republicans were on the list of those who would be attending and addressing the crowd.
But both Republican and Democrat figures had been invited to the event, including Gov. Gavin Newsom’s public safety liaison, Scott Baio, a Trump supporter who reportedly attended Helus’ church, Trump supporter and performance artist Joy Villa and Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin.
Reports claimed that Irwin was upset that her former opponent, Republican attorney Ronda Kennedy, had been invited to the event.
Well, @ScottBaio, thanks for your planned participation in the First Annual Sgt. Ron Helus Blue Bowl event in Thousand Oaks, CA but it now appears the event is in jeopardy because some elected political figures don’t want any Republicans in attendance. This is what we’ve come to.
— STU (@bleachers138) September 27, 2019
Mike Randall, vice president of the Fallen Officers Foundation, had helped organize the event in order to pay tribute to the fallen as well as provide the families with a community of support and the funds to get them through difficult times.
But then Hagel confronted him and told him that if the Republicans weren’t scrapped from the list, he would pull the department’s support for the charity.
“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,” said Randall to Fox 11.
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Hagel wasn’t finished there.
“’The only thing,’ and I quote, ‘the only thing you [could have done to make] this worse, Mike, was to invite Dick Cheney and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.’
“And I went, ‘Wow, are you kidding me?'”
Eventually Hagel told Randall that if they didn’t completely pull the Trump-supporters from the stage, he would be pulling the entire department from participating in the charity game. And eventually, he did just that.
“He goes, ‘Yeah, this ain’t gonna work for us,’ I said, ‘You’re not gonna support this with the honor guard?’ And he goes, ‘No, we’re not bringing the honor guard. We’re not coming. We’re not going to be there, not supporting it’,” said Randall.
So it appears there’s been a falling out between the out-of-town organizers of the Ron Helus Blue Bowl and the Ventura Co Sheriff’s Office. The Fla.-based organization is supposed to host a charitable flag football game at Oct. 6 at Newbury Park High School. pic.twitter.com/X4pmLlARV3
— Kyle Jorrey (@KyleBJorrey) September 26, 2019
Now, the entire event has been put on hold.
Jerseys with Sgt. Helus’ name had already been donated by the L.A. Rams. Footballs with Helus’s picture were set to be signed by NFL players. And Sgt. Helus’ wife had already met with organizers and was in full support of the event.
The department issued a formal statement retracting their participation in the charity 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.”
MORE: Sgt. Ron Helus was among the dozen killed, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 8, 2018
Villa, who was supposed to sing at the event, called the department’s decision prejudice.
“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,” she said.
Randall went on to further condemn the partisan views of the chief and his temper tantrum, noting that when it comes down to a life and death situation, cops don’t play favorites based on party lines.
“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,” Randall said.
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