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BLOG: IOWA POLITICS INSIDER
BLOG POST BY JASON CLAYWORTH • JCLAYWORTH@DMREG.COM • MAY 27, 2010
Iowa’s Republican National Committeeman sent an e-mail this week to a gay member of his party who is considering a run for president and told him he would work overtime to ensure that his campaign aspirations are aborted.
“You and the radical homosexual community want to harass supporters of REAL marriage,” Steve Scheffler wrote in an e-mail to Fred Karger, a longtime civil rights advocate in California who is gay and has announced he is running for president. “. . . I will work overtime to help ensure that your political aspirations are aborted right here in Iowa.”
Karger, the founder of Californians Against Hate, said he is shocked that one of Iowa’s highest-ranking members of his party would express such disdain.
“The fact that he made such hateful comments, I think is very offensive,” Karger said. “I certainly think he owes me an apology.”
The e-mail sent to Karger was in response to a message by Californians Against Hate that outlined how Maine officials had ordered the National Organization for Marriage to turn over the names of its donors in a recent state election. The group, better known as NOM, opposes equal marriage rights for same sex couples.
The original message from Karger’s group praised “truth and transparency in politics.”
Scheffler acknowledged today that he wrote the e-mail but said he makes no apologies.
“I’m not going to get involved in the presidential caucuses but I’m going to call a spade a spade,” Scheffler said today. “When you have somebody who is this far out of the mainstream of the political party, I’m just going to tell them what I think.”
One Iowa, the state’s largest civil rights group for gay and lesbians, said the situation demonstrates intolerance within the Republican Party.
“The Iowa Republican party wants to portray themselves as a big tent party, but when it comes right down to it leaders like Scheffler have shown little tolerance for those with different views,” said Carolyn Jenison, the executive director of One Iowa. “They’ve increasingly tried to purge their party of pro-equality Republicans like Karger and former Lt. Gov. Joy Corning. This goes beyond marriage, this is about excluding people from the political process.”
Matt Strawn, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, did not return a phone call about Scheffler’s e-mail. Danielle Plogmann, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Iowa, said Strawn was out of the office Thursday and that this issue is not one that he wants to comment upon.
Here’s Scheffler’s e-mail to Karger as sent from his BlackBerry:
You don’t care about transparency–you and the radical homosexual community want to harass supporters of REAL marriage. I am the Republican National Committeeman for Iowa. As a private citizen and knowing literally thousands of caucus goers, I will work overtime to help ensure that your political aspirations are aborted right here in Iowa. Have you studied our past caucuses–you have NO chance here in Iowa!