If Joe Solmonese Pays $30k to Mingle With Democratic Senators + Nobody Hears About It, Does It Make a Sound?
In November, after it was clear Obama and the Democrats would not be our fierce advocates, a smattering of gay bloggers and activists launched a boycott of the Democratic National Committee and their various affiliates. And when the Human Rights Campaign opted not to support the boycott outright (and instead issued statement avoiding an official position), we wondered aloud, Why the hell not? As if we didn’t know the answer then, we know it now: Because Joe Solmonese & Co. remain best buds with Democratic political leaders. So much so that they went on their “winter retreat” last month.
Somonese and HRC’s and Allison Herwitt were among the guests (list here, PDF) for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s January event, where well-connected civilians (read: moneybags from McDonald’s, Altria, Home Depot, and Merck) got to hob nob with senators including Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, Robert Menendez (DSCC’s chairman), and Claire McCaskill (who we identified as the star of today’s hearings).
If you query HRC, they’ll tell you that HRC’s involvement in DSCC invents, and the Democrat party in general, is crucial to their efforts in lobbying lawmakers to pass gay rights legislation. That is partly true. To us, however, it sounds like more of the Gay Inc. organization’s business-as-usual M.O., where the group’s annual budget is devoted to Solmonese making nice with lawmakers in exchange for inaction, platitudes, and delays.
Notes Michael Petrelis, a fellow stick up HRC’s ass and the vocal blogger calling for more transparency from HRC: “What did Solmonese and Herwitt do at the Democratic Party retreat? How did they advance the national gay agenda? Did HRC spend $30,000 to be there? What was the cost to HRC? Answers are not posted at the HRC site.”
Indeed, the top legal contribution Solmonese and the 100+ other lobbyists could make to the DSCC is $30,000, and that grants them the chance to drink and sip at the Ritz Carlton South Beach Resort. It’s also, notes Politico, “a marked contrast to Menendez’s recent rhetoric, which has echoed the White House denunciation of ‘special interests’ and ‘fat cats.'”
That gay rights activists — people who are “lobbying” for equality … EQUALITY! — are being lumped in there with “special interests” is both disheartening and saddening evidence that despite all the money HRC throws their way, Democrats have been so far able to resist these inroads while still racketing up gay dollars.
It might smell like ineffective strategy, but it reeks of self-aggrandizement.