August 27, 2019 at 5:30 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Exclusive: Log Cabin executive director resigns over Trump endorsement
Jerri Ann Henry has resigned as executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. (File photo courtesy of the Log Cabin Republicans)

The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans has resigned following a controversial decision by the organization’s board to endorse President Trump, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Jerri Ann Henry, who was the first woman to lead the LGBT Republican group, formally submitted her resignation Friday and left Monday after discussions with board members characterized as “harsh,” sources familiar with Log Cabin told the Blade.

The resignation follows intense criticism of Log Cabin, which announced its support for Trump earlier this month without its members having met with him or having received any explicit commitments in exchange.

Sources said Henry’s discontent with Trump and dissatisfaction with Log Cabin’s approach to defending its Trump endorsement in the media were key among her reasons for stepping down.

Charles Moran, a Log Cabin spokesperson, confirmed Henry “did tender her resignation,” saying that occurred Monday.

“The final date of her employment is undetermined at this time,” Moran added. “The board’s executive committee will proceed with an orderly transition to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.”

Moran declined to comment on the circumstances of her departure, saying he “wasn’t on the phone call she had with our board chairman” and “can’t speak to the tenor or tone of the conversation.”

“We thank her for her service to our organization and wish her well in the next chapter of her career,” Moran added.

Henry’s name was not signed to the op-ed in the Washington Post endorsing Trump, which was signed by Log Cabin board chair Robert Kabel and vice chair Jill Homan. The op-ed was largely based on the Trump administration’s stated global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality and an HIV/AIDS plan — both of which have yet to yield any results.

Although Henry — a Republican who’s an alumnus from the marriage-equality movement — was hired under a promise to advance pro-LGBT policies within the Republican Party, her voice had been effectively sidelined for about two months.

Sources say disagreements about the direction of Log Cabin — with some wanting to pursue pro-LGBT policy goals, while others wanted to support Trump — led to a decision to prohibit Henry from speaking publicly for the group.

Henry, the latest to leave Log Cabin after the Trump endorsement, joins former board member Jennifer Horn, who has been public about her resignation, saying she couldn’t look her children in the eye and belong to an organization that supported Trump.

Casey Pick, who once worked as programs director for Log Cabin, has repudiated the organization in a Facebook post. Additionally, Robert Turner II, who once led Log Cabin’s D.C. chapter, announced he’d leave Log Cabin in a Facebook message.

A less public resignation not previously reported, sources said, was board member Rachel Hoff, who gained notoriety during the 2016 Republican National Convention for arguing for LGBT inclusion in the Republican Party during the platform drafting process.

(The platform ended up reiterating the GOP’s support for a Federal Marriage Amendment and suggested parents should be able to send their kids to “ex-gay” conversion therapy. It was deemed the most anti-LGBT ever at the time by Log Cabin itself .)

Hoff didn’t immediately respond Monday night to a request for comment. Henry also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

News of Henry’s departure comes just weeks before its “Spirit of Lincoln” reception in D.C. on Sept. 17. In years past, the annual event was both a dinner, usually with high-profile Republican attendees, as well as a reception, but for this year, the event is reduced to simply a reception.

Log Cabin’s remaining board members consist mostly of its California contingent, including Charles Moran, who joined the board recently and now serves as Log Cabin’s spokesperson.

Following the organization’s endorsement of Trump, it was Moran — not Henry — who went public in the media to explain the endorsement.

Sources say the board decided to endorse Trump at this time, flouting its customary practice of waiting to make a decision until the Republican National Convention, because some board members were angry Log Cabin didn’t endorse Trump in 2016.

When those members realized they had the votes to endorse Trump, they rushed to make it happen despite not having the customary commitments for Log Cabin’s support, such as meeting with the presidential candidate up for endorsement, sources said.

Moran, however, disputed that account, saying the endorsement “came at the request of our chapter leaders.”

“In our bylaws, we are required to survey our chapters to solicit their input,” Moran said. “The result was almost unanimous in support of endorsing President Trump for re-election. We declined to endorse in 2016, so our chapter leaders wanted to make sure their voices were heard clearly and direction taken into consideration for 2020.”

Moran added the situation with Trump being an incumbent president played a role in the early endorsement.

“This is a reelection campaign and the ramp-up happens earlier for the incumbent, which is completely normal,” Moran said.

The influence of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who’s the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration, was also a factor in the endorsement, especially on the California members of the board, sources said.

In addition to the California board members, 11 of the organization’s 42 chapters are in California, according to Log Cabin’s website, so chapters in that state hold considerable sway over the group.

Both Moran and Grenell served as delegates from California supporting Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Moran downplayed the influence of Grenell on Log Cabin, but affirmed the organization supports his efforts spearheading the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality.

“Ambassador Grenell remains busy abroad with his portfolio in Berlin, and we wholeheartedly support his efforts leading the international decriminalization efforts, which we have publicized in our meetings and covered on our social media,” Moran said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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