smoking guns

SHOCK: HRC Losing Cash Donors Because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Strategy


In a revealing letter to the Human Rights Campaign obtained by Queerty, a donor to the organization reveals he’s withdrawing his financial support for one big reason: HRC’s misguided strategy on letting elected officials off the hook on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to push through other legislation. Previous accusations claimed HRC’s Joe Solmonese was advising the White House and senior Democratic legislators to take a relaxed approach to DADT. Now, irrefutable evidence HRC is throwing military personnel under the bus.

The donor, whose name was redacted in the letter forwarded to us (we’re opting to use the pronoun “he” for clarity’s sake), has two major complaints about HRC: 1) It is advising the White House and legislators that they need more support in repealing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which has the effect of stymieing the ability to gain more support; and 2) The funds HRC collects to battle against DADT are not actually being used to do so.

It’s unlikely Solmonese & Co. make significant strategy decisions without without consulting HRC’s inner circle — doing so would risk their cash faucets. But it appears Solmonese has been advising legislators either without consulting its top tier of donors, or despite it.

The letter’s author is among HRC’s Federal Club, which requires annual donations of $1,200 to $4,999.

Also: According to a date stamp on the email, the letter was forwarded around at least as early as May 9, which if you do your math, is before the first report of HRC’s punting on DADT surfaced from reporter Jason Bellini, who filed the report earlier this month. That means HRC members have been aware of the org’s strategy on repealing DADT before the rest of us.

And now, amidst renewed charges (this time from the military newspaper Stars & Stripes) that Solmonese has been telling legislators to hold off on DADT while legislation like ENDA goes through, comes our publishing of the donor letter, which offers pretty irrefutable evidence that HRC is telling Washington how to play with our rights — even if Solmonese denies it.

Dear [Federal Club co-chairs]

[Partner name] and I are suspending our federal club membership due to HRC’s opposition to moving H.R. 1283 (the Military Readiness Enhancement Act) forward in this Congress. I am aware that HRC has recently discouraged several key Senate offices from introducing MREA, and am concerned that HRC may be similarly discouraging other members of Congress from co-sponsoring the legislation. The White House is saying that MREA needs more support in Congress before the President can publically do anything; many members of Congress are saying that the President needs to do more publically before they will come on board. HRC’s private, de-facto opposition to the current MREA effort is contributing to this catch-22.

HRC, in recently years, has raised a lot of money by fundraising on the DADT issue (vis-à-vis Sgt. Eric Alva), but the funds raised are clearly not being used to repeal DADT, and – sadly – part of those funds appear to be used to functionally advocate the continuation of DADT, at least in the short term. That HRC would refuse to invest resources to support the passage of MREA in this Congress is unsettling. That HRC would actively work to undermine the efforts of those of us who are waging this critically important battle is offensive. (I am attaching to this email a .pdf copy of a May 1 HRC Public Policy Committee email with minutes from its April meeting, and the agenda from its May meeting. These documents conclusively evidence that DADT is not on the HRC legislative agenda (despite 140 of our Congressional allies having the political courage to co-sponsor H.R. 1283).)

[Partner name] and I donate a significant percentage of our income to organizations fighting for the rights of LGBT soldiers. I am deeply troubled that our investment is being devalued by HRC.

We support HRC’s efforts on hate crimes legislation, and other very important federal initiatives. Indeed, we are grateful for those efforts. And, we truly respect and appreciate each of you for your years of leadership to our community, locally and nationally. But on this matter we must speak out. We make this promise to you: we will immediately renew our federal club membership when HRC shows*by its actions* that it fully supports passage of MREA in this Congress. Until then, we are diverting this $1,200 directly to those to want the ban to end now.

In your capacity as HRC fiduciaries, we ask that you please influence HRC to cease its efforts to undermine the repeal of DADT in this Congress.


[Name of former HRC Federal Club member, outside Washington DC]

We’ve put a word in with HRC to see if we can ID the letter writer. We’ll let you know what we hear. And let’s be sure: This donor isn’t the only one abandoning support.

(Photo: LCCR)