By Jackson Thoreau
Under the appropriate heading of "Naked City," the weekly Austin Chronicle became the first media source beyond Internet blogs and ezines to report on the alleged sex scandal involving Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The Feb. 26 story by Michael King mentioned a "support rally" this week at the Governor's Mansion for Perry under the theme, "It's OK to Be Gay." The story mentions the numerous rumors that "the governor's marriage is in trouble, that his wife Anita has/will/may decide to divorce him, and that the issue is Rick's alleged infidelity, with one or another member of his administration of undetermined gender. [Rumors of this sort, about multitudinous politicians, circulate all the time, but the current Perry rumors are indeed extraordinary in their baroque detail and remarkable persistence.]"
King said he looked into the Perry rumors when they first surfaced some weeks ago and "found no evidence of any truth to any of them, whatsoever." He lamented that "nobody will go on the record." Did anyone involved in the story "go on the record" when everyone from Saturday Night Live to Reuters published the alleged affair rumor against John Kerry a few weeks ago? No, but of course, Kerry is a Democrat so the media and people in general believe the myth that Democrats are more likely to have extramarital affairs than Republicans.
King had this comment from Perry spokesperson Kathy Walt: "These are false, malicious, and hurtful rumors, and the Chronicle's own investigation acknowledges that fact."
King also wrote that "numerous other reporters, from here to New York, have looked into the rumors, with, as far as we know, an identical lack of results. Nor do we expect anything we say here to have any effect on the rumors, which have become entirely self-replicating as they echo through the blogosphere."
A note on this story: It is extremely difficult to find "evidence" of extramarital affairs unless one party spills the beans or it comes out in a court divorce document. In 2001, The Washington Post put two reporters to spy on former Democratic Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, who was rumored to have had sex with Jennifer Crawford, his unmarried chief of staff, while he was separated from his wife. The Post reported in Sept. 2001 that Glendening eased out of Crawford's home early on a few mornings that summer.
Remember that Crawford was unmarried and Glendening was separated. Has any media outlet devoted similar resources to try to catch Perry, who says he is committed to his wife? No. Can anyone recall the media catching a Republican in an affair through such an investigation? I can't. And it's not like Republicans don't have affairs; read my essay at to learn about a few of them.
So just because some reporters found "no evidence" to support the rumors doesn't mean the rumors do not have some basis. It just might take more work to unearth some evidence-- such as reporters following Perry around 24 hours a day as they did to former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, a potential 1988 presidential candidate, and Glendening - than these reporters can devote at the moment.
The Chronicle also pointed out how last year Perry signed the "Defense of Marriage Act," the Texas Legislature's "latest gratuitous demonstration that it believes gay and lesbian Texans deserve fewer rights than other citizens." The rumors have become stronger as Bush and other Republicans push for a Constitutional amendment to ensure that no gay couple marries.
The Chronicle's story mentioned how Perry and his wife spent Presidents Day weekend in the Bahamas with major political donors James and Cecelia Leininger and John and Bobbi Nau. The official story on this was it was a "working trip" paid for by "campaign funds" to discuss "public school finance." As the Chronicle pointed out, "That is, during a luxury retreat in the Bahamas, the governor discussed "public school finance" with a group of wealthy right-wing activists who have done everything in their power to undermine, or even abolish, public education."
Meanwhile, a blog written by Wick Allison, publisher/editor of D Magazine, a mainstream city magazine, mentioned that Geoff Connor, Perry's secretary of state and alleged playmate, threatened to track down the source of the rumor and sue. Republicans have blamed a Democratic operative in Houston.
This is from a strong Republican insider and apologist. Allison has given money to Republican candidates, such as $500 to Hillary Clinton's NY Senate opponent in 2000.
That would be an interesting lawsuit if Connor were to actually sue someone, wouldn't it? I doubt he would follow through since the gay stories would get further into the public record.
A politically-connected attorney in Texas told me he has known about Perry's gay side since the 1980s. And two district judges in Odessa told him that the rumor was always there when they served in the Legislature with Perry.
I don't care if he is gay or bi or whatever, what's appalling is the hypocrisy involved - Perry is going around condemning gays and signing laws against them in public while possibly doing something different in private.
And check out this statement in the Texas GOP's platform, the most extreme platform in the country, which also calls for abolishing Social Security, the Department of Education and others, along with getting the U.S. out of the U.N.: "The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans." It also says, "The party opposes the decriminalization of sodomy."
Perry approved the statement, and all candidates who run as Republicans in Texas have to sign it, or forfeit financial support by the party. So if the homosexual encounter with Perry is true, I would think his own party's leaders would be making plans to get rid of him. I hear Perry won't run for governor again in 2006, even if these rumors die.
I also hear there is a court transcript or statement of facts in the Texas Court of Appeals that contains sworn testimony that former Waco Rep. Lane Denton had an encounter himself with Perry. Some reporters I know are checking on that.
Denton was found guilty in 1995 of diverting $67,201 from the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association while serving as its executive director in 1988-89. He received 20 years in prison, but his sentence was suspended, and he was placed on community supervision.
The Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals, where the Perry document allegedly is, also ruled against Denton.
In the original trial, prosecutors said Denton funneled the trooper group's funds to a public relations company owned by New Orleans architect John Chrestia, who testified that he had been Mr. Denton's gay lover.
Blogs that have done great jobs in keeping this issue fresh include http://www.burntorangereport.com/archives/001102.html and datalounge.
Why is the story important in the battle to dethrone Bush? Why not focus on the economy or Iraq in attacking Bush?
Because with his support for a Constitutional amendment to crack down on gay rights, Bush has signaled that he plans to make "morality" and cultural issues a big part of his 2004 campaign. And pointing out the Republican hypocrisies-- which include charges of extramarital sex against Bush [see http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/knowrsex.html] in this area is important to win this battle.
If Democrats can show that the very Republicans who blasted Clinton for having an extramarital affair in the 1990s have extramarital affairs of their own and might even be extra hypocrites in publicly bashing gays, then this supposed advantage in "morality" that Republicans seem to enjoy over Democrats can be negated. Like it or not, sex and extramarital affairs register more with many average voters who get most of their news from TV than Iraq or even the economy.
I'm not expecting the Kerry campaign to conduct this "expose the cultural Republican hypocrites" campaign. As far as I know, the Kerry campaign has nothing to do with spreading these rumors. People like me will do it and take the heat as muckrakers or mudslingers or whatever from the whining Republican babies who don't like to see their own tactics slammed back in their faces. As I have long said, many far-right Republicans can dish it out, but they can't take it.
Message to the Republican whiners: Don't be surprised and cry foul when
your opponent plays by the rules you devise.
While I can't take credit for starting this Perry rumor, I have helped move it along. I see this campaign as part of my duty and my contribution to restore some legitimacy and sanity to the White House.
So a non-Internet media outlet has published this Perry story. Can we expect Reuters and others who jumped on the Kerry rumor to follow suit? It would be the fair thing to do, based on the precedent set with the Kerry rumor. But I'm not holding my breath.
Jackson Thoreau is an American writer and co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 120,000-word electronic book can be downloaded on his Internet site. He is working on another book, The Strange Death of the Woman Who Filed a Rape Lawsuit Against Bush & Other Things the Bush Administration Doesn't Want You to Know. Some chapters from that can be read at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/know.html . He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .