By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News.
At first glance, I was pretty underwhelmed with Birmingham minister and candidate for governor Scott Dawson’s media tour Tuesday.
In case you missed it, Dawson brought to light a State of Alabama grant to an LGBT organization made under Gov. Kay Ivey’s watch. He said the grant “betrayed Alabama values.” The now-defunct group, Free2B, offered counseling and support to LGBT teens who are being bullied or considering suicide.
The Governor’s Office said the grant was pass-thru federal money that the state doesn’t really have a say in, but the grant writing agency is auditing just the same.
So, a swing and a miss for Dawson politically. Or so I thought.
Even if the stunt didn’t pan out in the press, it did elicit a somewhat predictable response from Ivey, who said “I certainly don’t agree with the agenda or values of that organization.”
That reaction is hardly surprising from a 72-year old lifelong conservative Republican. But, it was apparently enough to set off retiring State Rep. and current LBGT activist Patricia Todd, who audaciously claimed Ivey was a lesbian on social media.
Todd is lesbian and has previously threatened to “out” other public officials she thinks are gay. That’s a pretty big no-no in the gay community, but some think it’s okay if the targeted politician doesn’t embrace the LBGT agenda.
Ivey, who has been married twice, says she isn’t gay. Her campaign responded forcefully and categorically to Todd’s taunt, calling it “a disgusting lie pushed by a paid liberal political hack.”
Hmm. If it’s frowned upon to “out” people who are gay, how bad is it to mistakenly “out” someone who isn’t? For Todd, who is a professional gay rights activist, to use sexual orientation as a political weapon is mindblowingly hypocritical and sad.
Look, I’m the first to remind people that politics ain’t beanbag. But this is plain sorry.
Spreading unfounded, unsubstantiated rumors about someone’s sexuality is way out of bounds. It was wrong when it happened in the Attorney General’s race several weeks back and it’s wrong now.
And, in my opinion, many in the media seemed all too eager to run with it once Patricia Todd made it a story. I get it. It’s news and I need the clicks, too. But, let’s not peddle this on one hand and preach about gutter politics on the other.
But back to Scott Dawson. Was he really this clever? If this was a “Friends” episode, would it be titled “The One Where the Preacher Teams up with a LGBT Rights Activist to Spread Gay Rumors About the Governor?”
Dawson’s camp says no. They blame Todd and the “liberal media” for going there. However, when you’re connecting the governor to an LBGT group while repeatedly saying “I don’t want to fuel rumors,” how long until that’s exactly what you’re doing?
Interestingly, this episode could backfire for both Dawson and Todd. Dawson had been building appeal within the GOP primary as a refreshing truth-teller in the race. It’s hard to look at him the same now. Todd’s new LGBT rights employers in Florida can’t be too thrilled about her committing a big gay community no-no.
Either way, I doubt it amounts to much for Ivey. Many Alabama voters – including many conservatives – will see her as the victim here and they will be right.
Wednesday morning Ivey responded in full on social media.
“This most recent personal attack against me is beyond disgraceful. It’s a disgusting lie being pushed by a paid left wing liberal political operative. There is absolutely no truth to it. It’s false. It’s wrong. It’s a bald faced lie. And I’m not gonna let them get away with it. Whether these attacks are malicious or ignorant or both – they represent everything that’s wrong with politics today.”