December 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay GOP groups spar over ‘outing’ of Perry campaign pollster

Robert Turner, president of Log Cabin Republicans of D.C., criticized the co-founder and executive director of GOProud, a gay conservative Republican group, for disclosing on Twitter this week that a pollster and consultant for GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is gay.

Jimmy LaSalvia, the GOProud executive director, created a stir last week when he denounced Tony Fabrizio, a nationally known pollster and GOP campaign consultant, for playing a key role in Perry’s decision to attack gay rights in campaign statements and ads.

“I’ve just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from anti-gay homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus,” LaSalvia said in his Twitter posting.

LaSalvia tweeted about Fabrizio less than a week after Perry attacked President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their pledge of U.S. support for efforts to curtail anti-LGBT persecution in foreign countries that have imprisoned and in some cases executed gays solely because of their sexual orientation.

Last week, Perry launched a TV ad in Iowa in which he questions why gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military while children “can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

LaSalvia told the Blade that he did not think he was outing Fabrizio because the Republican pollster’s sexual orientation is well-known in political circles.

Turner told the Blade Fabrizio is not widely known as gay outside of a circle of political insiders. He said no one’s sexual orientation should be disclosed by those who disagree with their political views or campaign tactics.

“GOProud has used Twitter to out someone with whom they disagree,” Turner said. “Log Cabin Republicans also disagreed with the Perry ad, but the national office had the backbone to issue an honest press release and list what they disagreed with,” he said.

“GOProud, by contrast, dribbled out a person’s private life through tweets. Worse, given that we don’t know the internal workings of the Perry campaign, we don’t know what connection, if any, Mr. Fabrizio had with the noxious ad.”

LaSalvia and GOProud co-founder and President Christopher Barron issued their own statement on Friday saying their group has a longstanding policy against outing and they would never intentionally out someone.

“However, in the case of Tony Fabrizio, top pollster and chief strategist for the presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry, we did not believe there was any question about his sexual orientation – nor did the reporters who called us to ask about his involvement in Perry’s anti-gay campaign strategy,” the two said.

“Let us be crystal clear, however, Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here. Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy – not just an isolated television ad – intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points,” LaSalvia and Barron said in their statement.

Fabrizio could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Huffington Post reported on Thursday that a staff member of the Perry campaign took credit for initiating and producing the Perry TV ad in Iowa linking ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal with Christians not being allowed to pray openly in public places. The campaign staffer, Nelson Warfield, told Huffington Post that Fabrizio was opposed to the campaign ad and described it as “nuts.”

“If Fabrizio really does oppose the ad and the broader strategy then the honorable and decent thing to do would be to resign from the campaign,” LaSalvia and Barron said. “Tony Fabrizio is no junior staffer he is one of the top campaign pollsters and strategists in the country.”

The two added, “It is obvious that the campaign of Rick Perry is desperate, and in a desperate last ditch effort to become relevant in the GOP presidential race he and his campaign have decided to employ a strategy that plays to the cheap seats and appeals to the worst in people. Rick Perry should be embarrassed and the people around him who are the architects of this strategy, particularly people like Tony Fabrizio, should be ashamed.”

Fabrizio, considered one of the nation’s leading pollsters and survey research experts, has worked as a consultant for a wide range of corporations and organizations, including the national Log Cabin Republicans group. He served as pollster and chief strategist to the former Senator Robert Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and has served as a consultant to the Republican National Committee, according to a biography on his firm’s website.

“Tony Frabrizio does not deserve the vicious assault on his character,” said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national group Log Cabin Republicans. “By all accounts, Tony rightly objected to the ‘Strong’ ad as being counter-productive, ineffective, and offensive – in a word, ‘nuts.’ As a skilled pollster and strategist, he knew Americans today have no desire to see their gay neighbors used as a campaign wedge issue.”

Cooper added, “The Perry campaign would have been well served to heed Fabrizio’s advice, and it is a shame that certain individuals within our community are trying to punish Tony for doing what he could to prevent this ad from airing. Thankfully, Perry’s mistake has sent a clear message: the days of scoring political points through antigay rhetoric are over.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Fabrizio makes me throw up in my mouth. How can a gay man work for, and develop strategy for, a bigot and homophobe like Perry? The whole concept is unregerate filth, stupidity, and self-loathing. Fabrizio needs therapy–and I will, too, if I have to think about this disgusting little twit very much longer.

  • I have little use for GoProud’s self-serving antics, but in this case they are correct. The principled position for Mr. Fabrizio would have been to resign if he really felt that strongly about it. Anything other than that rightly begs the question to what extent he would prostitute himself to advance Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations? Considering LCR’s defense and absolution of Ken Mehlman, is it any surprise that they missed the sheer hypocrisy of the situation?

  • Gay and working for Perry. Jew and working for Hitler.

  • GoProud and Rick Perry….both making desperate last ditch efforts to be relevant.

  • Outing anyone for any reason is terrible… I know it happened to me with tragic consequences. (I lost) Perry is an ill-informed, bigotted evangelical (a rival to Bachman), who does not realize how many evangelical’s and people of faith are gay, so to contrast faith (the good guys) and gays (as the bad guys) is ignorant. I am evangelical and gay, but don’t tell most church people for obvious reasons (Perry and gays lose). Clinton and Obama in pegging the level of Foreign Aid with LBGT rights in recipient countries is only parroting Great Britain who only last month did the same thing when telling all Commonwealth nations that to stay in the club, they need to repeal any and all anti-LGBT legislation. The reason? In countries where the issue is open and a “non-issue,” gay more readily seek out medical treatment, especially HIV/ AIDS treatment, and the rise of the disease is curbed and even reduced. Continuing to vilify gays to feed into the ignorance of the general public, especially in the RED states, is just plain mean and uncaring. I wish that for a day, all gays would turn blue so that everyone would know that they know someone they love and care about is gay and it is no big deal. OH, would like to have this happen on Sunday so all the church-goers would realize this and maybe embrace us instead of rejecting us. Dream on…….

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