When Joe Solmonese Told You DADT Would Be Repealed in 2010, Did He Knowingly Lie?


In February, just after the president gave his State of the Union speech, White House advisers including Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina met with members of Gay Inc. to inform them the Obama administration would not be pushing for a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal in 2010, not even as an addition to the Pentagon’s budget bill. Later that month, at the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas fundraising gala, Joe Solmonese promised donors, “This year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as DADT.” At the time, we called it a “stupid thing to say.” We didn’t realize it was a blatant lie pushed forth by Mr. Solmonese.

David Smith, HRC’s policy and strategy chief, and the man who is truly behind much of HRC’s plotting, insists the White House advisers did not, in fact, guarantee 2010 was off the table. (He was at the meeting.) Update: Lobbyist (necessary disclaimer) Robert Raben also insists Messina didn’t say anything concrete.

They were “noncommittal,” he says. And even with that “noncommittal” stance, evidently HRC felt comfortable promising LGBT Americans that all their donations were finally going to pay off before Christmas.

You know what’s noncommital? The Human Rights Campaign. After Press Sec. Robert Gibbs said today, in the boldest of White House pronouncements yet, that Obama would not push for repeal this year, this is Mr. Smith’s response: “Those comments were not helpful and the White House needs to clarify that.” Or what? Or what, Smith? Or what, Solmonese? What will you do if they don’t clarify it? If they continue playing hot potato with our freedoms? Issue another press release asking for more money, that’s what.

The question that remains, then, is whether the Senate — whose Armed Services Committee has 12 or 13 firms votes in favor of repeal, according to SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis — will move forward on its own, because it’s the right thing to do, and push to put a DADT repeal on Obama’s desk within the budget bill. It would be a most awkward scenario, since Obama has told the Pentagon he will wait for them to review whether repealing DADT is worth doing before acting.

In doing so, he also told gay American servicemembers they were looking at another 10 months of possibly being fired because of how they were born.

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  • adman

    I’m not one to apologize for the likes of Mr. Solomnese, but didn’t he hold an event where President Obama showed up, and spewed these very same talking points just about a day or two before Solomnese confirmend them is his own statements? A liar? C’mon, he’s a DNC stooge who got to hung out to dry at the absolute worst, IMHO. He’ll come back, dust himself off and get with the new GetEqual and Dan CHoi realities to possibly chip in with the admin in some inside way. Look at it this way, at least he can play devil’s advocate in all those meetings on Capitol Hill now. A Liar? really? that’s kinda harsh.

  • Devon

    I don’t know if Joe Solomnese is a scheming liar or a raging incompetent. Maybe a little from column A, a little from column B.

    Either way the HRC is as worthless as ever and they don’t deserve another cent from anyone with an interest in seeing real progress made.

  • John

    So let’s see if I have this right.

    HRC makes an aspirational statement: “We’re going to see this done by the end of this year,” which very well might fail. It’s looking like it might not happen, so they lied. Apparently it would have been better for them to have said, “We’re going to continue working to get this repealed.”

    But wait! That’s what Obama keeps saying, and we demand that he take a stronger position!


  • christopher di spirito

    I can’t say if Solmonese knowing lied.

    Perhaps, Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank filled his earhole with lots of promising rhetoric to take back to the troops about DADT being repealed this year.

    Or, someone in the WH told him this and he passed it along.

    On the other hand, Solmonese is paid a lot of money for doing very little. His fancy-pants duds don’t come cheap and he clearly loves the camera, so maybe he did lie. Call it job security.

  • WalkderDC

    Look, either he lied because donations were down and HRC badly needed funds or, he is so out of the loop in DC that he has no insite into what is going on at that White House or Capital Hill. Either way, it makes him and HRC useless doesn’t it? If they can’t push the Senate to get this done, then I think they need to return all the donations from the last several years.

  • gaylib

    Of course he lied. He’s been lying to cover Obama’s lying ass since 2008. He has turned HRC into a lobby that advocates TO gays and lesbians on behalf of the Obama administration instead of lobbying the government on OUR behalf. He’s a liar, a con-man, and an obstacle to our gay civil rights movement. He needs to go. Now, before GetEQUAL drops a house on him too.

  • Jason

    Perhaps or perhaps not.

    Who can say.

    Jow is basically Obama’s house gay and we all know it.

    HRC is excellent at throwing parties and such, but they are basically our dotcom. Lots of money spent and few results to show for it.

  • Cam

    No. 6 · gaylib
    Of course he lied. He’s been lying to cover Obama’s lying ass since 2008. He has turned HRC into a lobby that advocates TO gays and lesbians on behalf of the Obama administration instead of lobbying the government on OUR behalf.

    That statement was like a splash of cold water in the face, VERY well put!

  • PADude

    If he’s such an insider, there’s no way he didn’t know this. If he didn’t know this, he’s flat out incompetent. That’s not a good set of choices.

    Basically, we have a choice between quisling and useless. I’ll choose both. I utterly agree with gaylib; if you have to sell your organization to the people you claim to represent, you have just proven yourself completely useless. If you’re a Washington insider, paid to lobby, and upholding the status quo, you’re a quisling.

    Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining, either. I’m waiting for a whistle-blower to let us know what’s really going on in there.

  • AndrewW

    On Monday GetEqual slaps the President during a speech.

    In Kip’s William’s words:

    “They interrupted his speech, demanding the immediate repeal of DADT and full equality for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. They were escorted out of the event without incident.”

    On Wednesday the White House announces (for the first time) they will wait for the Pentagon Study to be completed before taking any action on DADT Repeal. DADT Repeal will wait until after the Mid-terms.

    Congratulations, Kip and Robin and the GetEqual bunch.


    The WH will not oppose any repeal that Congress sends it. In addition the WH is not having the Pentagon study IF to repeal but HOW. My thinking is it’s time to target your Congressional rep.

    That knowledge came directly to me from my own high level source ( and look Ma! I did it without $500Million!).

    I am a hardcore DEM, but, as a former Hillary delegate (and ObamaPride worker after Denver) I never drank any Kool-Aid that O was somehow gonna save us from all that was bad. WE have to get more involved. Gay Inc has a head start on Get Equal and you, but, that doesn’t mean that YOU can’t make this thing happen.

    Get on your rep NOW! Join Get Equal as well. But for all that is merciful, ignore the “DONATE NOW” button at the bottom of Gay Incs relentless emails!


  • AndrewW

    @DEREK WASHINGTON: GetEqual still hasn’t explained HOW their publicity stunts help our movement. That would be appropriate BEFORE asking people to join their effort.

  • Lanjier

    Game over, and the DADT repeal fail falls squarely on Joe’s people-pleasing sugar and spice “strategy.” Joe reminds me of Chucky doll, Mr. “nice guy,” always repeating to the administration, “I’m your friend to the end!” Just pull his cord and he will repeat it. Joe has helped us finish last.

  • Bill Perdue

    HRC has lied to get money to pay huge salaries since its inception. Basically HRC is a scam. It’s front group for the Democrats that . It’s done precious little in its decades long history to merit giving it donations.

    Politically, HRC is a tool, a front group for the DNC. The DNC is run by former Virginia governor Tim Kaine. Kaine and ordained pentecostal bigot Leah Daughtry are bitterly anti-GLBT and anti-choice who share Obama’s pigheaded opposition to same sex marriage.

    Daughtry has a history of using DNC funds, some of it LGBT contributions, to fund the work of bigoted anti-choice christian Democrats in the bible belt.

    It seems that HRC is dying on the vine as key staffers move on or are pushed out, as revenues decline and as attitudes towards them shift from befuddlement about their effectiveness to widespread contempt at their incompetence.

    Any state of federal group that becomes a front group for the Democrats and the bigots in the DNC and White House will sooner or later suffer the same fate.

  • S

    Mr. Solmonese lied to transsexuals, many of whom were members of HRC, in 2007. Why would he hesitate to lie to gays (many of whom are members of HRC) in 2010?

    In the last Form 990 available for public viewing, Mr. Solmonese’s salary was over $270,000 per year. That’s where your donations are going.

  • Adam Jones

    If this is the case why don’t the people who are angry start a letter writing campaign to HRC board members? Solmonese has already said it is up to the board when he is to step down.

    I imagine if Terry Bean, Hillary Rosen, Bruce Bastian and company started to get 100 -200 letters at their homes or offices detailing how HRC has let down the community they’d suddenly see their ivory towers knocked over and would see their money is being wasted. Most people are on a board for prestige, let them see that prestige erode (or in fact that people think they’re idiotic for being on the board) and you’ll suddenly see the board get active.

    The board member’s names are public information. It cannot be too hard to find the address for their homes or work place. Especially if you know the state they reside in. You want change? Make the board understand your legitimate concerns without having HRC spoon feed it to them.

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