Republican mayoral nominee Matt Kelty on Monday apologized for a birthday cake served at a campaign fundraiser that appeared to disparage local GOP officials.
Pictures of the cake appeared on Kelty’s official campaign Web site – www.mattkelty.com – until Monday afternoon, when Kelty said he ordered them removed.
“The photo I don’t think should have been put on my Web site,” Kelty said. “I don’t endorse the comments made on the cake.”
The cake had a Wizard of Oz theme. It depicts an outhouse labeled “GOP HQ” sitting on top of a baseball field, believed to be reference to the $120 million Harrison Square project Kelty opposes. Resting atop the diamond and under the outhouse are legs resembling those of the Wicked Witch of the East.
The outhouse also refers to Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine and Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters, whom Kelty defeated in the mayoral primary.
From the outhouse is a yellow road leading to the Emerald City. Along the road are signs referring to City Councilman Sam Talarico, R-at large, who has been an outspoken supporter of Kelty’s opponent, Democrat Tom Henry.
Talarico called the cake juvenile and questioned why Kelty supporters would continue to attack members of the Republican Party.
“It’s that sort of stuff that has people so concerned about the guy being mayor,” Talarico said. “This isn’t a race for student council.”
On the Emerald City is a sign saying, “The wizard of Ozz is in,” which likely is a reference to Ozzie Mitson, Peters’ campaign manager.
Mitson said local Republican officials confirmed the witch was intended to be Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, and the toilet paper on the outhouse bears the pictures of County Recorder John McGauley and Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd. McGauley was the first local elected Republican to publicly criticize the Kelty campaign. Souder vocally endorsed Kelty at a news conference.
Mitson said he wasn’t personally offended by the cake, but he found it odd.
“I’m sure it was intended as a joke, but I think it’s pretty disrespectful for a campaign that speaks of values and integrity,” he said.
Peters said he called Kelty to discuss the cake, and Kelty responded that he didn’t know what Peters was talking about.
Kelty said his 43d birthday party – which served as a fundraiser charging $43 per person – was a hectic event and he did not know about the cake until it was already cut and served.
A second picture displayed for a short amount of time on the Kelty Web site shows Kelty holding the outhouse. Kelty said the photo was taken after the cake was eaten.
He said he wished someone would have brought the cake to his attention so he could have had it removed.
After issuing a written statement about the cake Monday evening, Kelty said he had called Peters to apologize if the cake offended him. Peters could not be reached for additional comment late Monday.
Kelty would not divulge who baked the cake, only saying it was a, “wonderful friend and supporter.”