I've written in past–just last year, in fact–regarding Kentucky's own particularly nasty dominionist hatemongers. Specifically, Frank Simon–who is head of the American Family Association of Kentucky and who has a very long and nasty history with not only gay-baiting but explicit gay-baiting of even straight supporters of Fairness–may be up to his usual dirty tricks.
These lovely partners-in-crime with the sorts of folks behind the notoriously and virulently anti-LGBT and Holocaust-revisionist group “Watchmen On The Walls” (and no, I'm not making that up–Simon's promoted “The Pink Swastika” in his literature) have now attempted to “queer-smear” Steve Bashear in a particularly vicious manner.
And this time they may well have stepped over the bounds of the law–there is strong evidence that they are sending fake robocalls claiming to be from the Kentucky Fairness Coalition.Dominionists in KY try to start a Reichstag Fire riot against the KY Fairness Coalition and Beshear–and all signs point to Frank Simon
Many people in Kentucky today received a series of robocalls (all showing up on caller ID as “Unknown number”)–which seem to be playing at Frank Simon's old “queer smear” tactics.
The calls–which haven't yet gotten too much publicity in local media but are covered in LGBT and political media–were voiced by none other than Pat Boone and which not only claimed that Beshear and Mongiardo had been endorsed by the Kentucky Fairness Coalition but essentially accused them of wanting to make public schools into San Francisco bathhouses:
Down to the last two days before voting booths open, Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher urged supporters to disregard polls that show him behind, while his running mate referred to the Democratic candidates as “San Francisco treats.”
Several Republicans — including the entertainer, Pat Boone — criticized Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear and his running mate Daniel Mongiardo this weekend for being endorsed of the Committee for Fairness and Individual Rights, a group that advocates equal treatment of gays and lesbians.
Boone, the singer and descendent of Daniel Boone, recorded a phone message for the Kentucky Republican Party that asked voters whether they “want a governor who’d like Kentucky to be another San Francisco.” Those calls went out to tens of thousands of homes Friday.
Monday, Round Two began of the robocalls–and these flat out pulled a trick Frank Simon has used before: namely, robocalling that explicitly and falsely claims to be from the Kentucky Fairness Coalition (and which is confirmed by reports coming in to the Louisville Courier-Journal):
I'm getting word that robocalls are going out today from fake “homosexual organizations” claiming to be for Steve Beshear. Fletcher is absolutely scraping the bottom of the barrel. Based on their past behavior, I can't even say that this is surprising.
I'll have more on this when I get more info. Please write in if you get one of these calls, too.
UPDATE: I'm getting further reports that the calls are saying the Steve will be hiring gay people and accepting gay unions. At the end, they lead you to believe that the Fairness Alliance is the sponsor.
UPDATE#2: The calls are also coming in Lexington. A transcript coming soon.
I can confirm that the calls also came in to Louisville–again, showing up as “Caller Unknown”–and (as the recording of the robocall that BlueGrassRoots shows) indeed they falsely claimed to be from the Fairness Coalition:
“For the first time in 20 years the homosexual lobby proudly endorses a Kentucky candidate for governor, Steve Beshear. Beshear is receiving major support from out-of-state gay activists and has publicly committed to same-gender relationships, employment of more homosexuals in state government including teachers, and support for homosexual adoption of children.
If you believe these rights are fair please vote for Steve Beshear for governor. Visit Fairness.org.
Hmmmm….yeah, it seems Franky-boy is at it again, especially if you look at Freedom's Heritage Forum's recent voter's guide.
For those unaware, Freedom's Heritage Forum is essentially the PAC wing of AFA-KY (it started out as its own group, and–after multiple negative court rulings–essentially operates as the skunkworks wing of AFA-KY where voter's guides are published from). And, well, the commentary in aforementioned voter's guide has some very similar language.
Among other things, both the Pat Boone call and the fake Fairness Coalition call flogged the “Homosexual lobby” and C-FAIR connections–both of which are flogged in the Freedom's Heritage Forum voter's guide:
ISSUE FLETCHER BESHEAR
. . .
Special Rights for those Opposed (3) Supports (3 & 4)
Who practice Homosexual Acts.
Endorsed (strongly backed) by the No(4) Yes (4)
Powerful Homosexual Political
. . .
3. Fletcher opposed giving medical insurance benefits to the boyfriends of homosexual professors. (Mark Hebert in WHAS11 blog (www.beloblog.com) on 3/14/07, telephone interviews, emails, and questionnaires).
4. Literature from CFAIR, the powerful Homosexual PAC.
(As in original. Copied in part because it appears Freedom's Heritage Forum website hit its maximum bandwidth.)
Reportedly, there are already formal complaints being made to the Kentucky Election Commission, and the Fairness Coalition has issued a general call to all Kentuckians to report the illegal calls:
Desperate opponents of Steve Beshear have stooped to a new low by using deceptive automated telephone calls falsely representing themselves as the Fairness Campaign. Fairness has received dozens of calls from concerned Kentuckians who have reported receiving these misleading and inaccurate phone calls.
The Fairness Campaign has issued the following statement: “We believe Kentuckians are looking for a governor who will work to bring Kentuckians together to improve the lives of all people in the Commonwealth. That’s why CFAIR, the Committee for Fairness and Individual Rights, has endorsed Steve Beshear for Governor. These last minute dirty-tricks should remove any doubt about who fair-minded Kentuckians should elect as their next Governor on November 6.”
Neither CFAIR nor the Fairness Campaign are making any automated calls in this election. Voters who receive an inappropriate call should report it to the Secretary of State’s Office [(502) 564-3490], the Attorney General’s Office [(502) 696-5300], and their local Board of Elections (Jefferson County: 574-6100).
Even worse, there is evidence suggesting that Ernie Fletcher is now attempting to dead-agent a Democratic campaigner–specifically, from Mongiardo's campaign–for the calls:
UPDATE 4:15: We’ve received reports that the robocall originates from a telephone number owned by Lee Murphy of Poli-Tech Consulting – an organization that works only for Democrats in Kentucky – including Dan Mongiardo’s 2004 campaign. I spoke to Mr. Murphy moments ago and he confirms that he’s absolutely not involved, saying he “would never work against a Democrat” and that he’s actually friends with Mongiardo.
So where does this leave us? It appears a Republican or anti-Beshear lackey has an ax to grind and is wrongly claiming Poli-Tech is behind the robocall.
Someone is trying to cover up their tracks.
This may be one of the nastier attempts yet–but, sadly, this is far from an isolated case of this in KY.
Sadly, not new territory
This is, alas, not the first time that robocalling of this sort has been done by AFA-KY (though it is likely the first time they falsely claimed to be from the Fairness Coalition–something likely to get them into serious trouble).
To say that Frank Simon and his associated orgs have a history of this sort of thing is making an understatement (of around the level of stating that, oh, Hirohito and Teddy Roosevelt had minor disagreements over the governmental status of the Territory of Hawaii).
The most notable incidents I know of that Simon has pulled in a similar manner include remarkably similar queer-smearing of Jack Conway in 2002 (who ran against Ann Northup in KY-03) just for attending a Fairness Coalition banquet:
(The Pro-Family Coalition) wanted to let voters know a fund-raiser is being held Friday for Democrat Jack Conway. They also wanted to send a message to Conway not to take any money the group might raise.
The fund-raiser was being held by many supporters of the Fairness Campaign, a group that has been concerned about laws for gays and lesbians.
Somehow, the coalition got ahold of an invitation, and as a result, a newsletter went out to more than 1,500 people from the Freedom's Heritage Forum. The Forum is a group created by Dr. Frank Simon of Louisville, a well-known anti-gay rights activist.
When I came into work Thursday morning, my voice mail was full of messages. Oddly enough, they were all about the same thing. After a simple introduction by the person in the message and sometimes a telephone number, the message went on to say, “I have a copy of an invitation where Carla Wallace and other homosexual activists are having a fund-raiser for Jack Conway. Does this mean that Conway supports: homosexual marriages, homosexual boy scout leaders and the homosexual priests?”
It was obvious after the eighth message that they were all being read for some kind of script. I later found out by checking in the news room that other members of the staff had fielded similar inquires because my voice mailbox was full.
I learned the coalition was holding a news conference at noon.
I called the Conway camp to see if anyone there was aware of what was going on. They were. In fact, Conway's folks were sure his opponent was somehow connected.
“We call on Anne Northup to stand up and talk to Frank Simon and repudiate his vile, bigoted hatred,” said Conway campaign manager Mark Riddle.
I asked if Jack Conway is in favor of same sex marriages. “He is not in favor of same sex marriages,” Riddle said.
Riddle also showed me a copy of the Simon newsletter, and that's where I learned how my voice mailbox got so full of messages.
The newsletter encouraged whoever read it to call all of the TV stations in Louisville and the Courier-Journal. The letter then asked the reader to say exactly what I have already mentioned about the Conway fund-raiser. The idea was to make all of us in TV news, specifically political reporters, think the community was very concerned about this issue.
. . .
Interestingly enough, the group called a press conference to criticize Conway if he takes money from a gay fund-raiser, but they admitted they had no idea where he stood on any of the issues they were concerned about.
“These are pro family kinds of things that we are desperately concerned with,” Stephenson said.
He's also done the whole “pretending to be LGBT leadership” before, too–most notoriously in attempting to make the publisher of an LGBT magazine in the Louisville area appear to be a paedophile in an incident that eventually led to a libel lawsuit:
Phoenix Hill Enterprises, Inc., publishers of The Letter, a Louisville-based newspaper serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, filed suit in US District Court October 28 against a local Republican candidate running for Louisville's board of aldermen and an anti-gay activist closely tied to his campaign.
The suit alleges copyright infringement and defamation.
The charges stem from a July 6 fundraising letter sent out on the letterhead of Michael Dickerson, Republican candidate for the 12th ward seat.
It claimed that if a citywide gay civil rights ordinance were passed, there would be “overt Homosexual Activists in All Jefferson County [Louisville] Schools.” It also included a marked up copy of the personals pages from the March 1996 edition of The Letter, which it said showed ads from homosexuals seeking sex with children.
. . .
After seeing the letter, David Williams, editor, immediately wrote to Dickerson demanding a retraction and asking that he not photocopy any portion of the paper again without the newspaper's permission. He also wrote to Bill Stone, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, informing him of the letter. Neither responded.
Last week Dickerson told the Louisville Courier-Journal he didn't know anything about the letter and says the signature is not his. He thought the letter might be a smear tactic by his opponent.
Part of Dickerson's comments may be true. The signature on the letter apparently does not match ones on campaign documents filed earlier. But it appears to have been sent out by someone associated with his campaign. About two weeks after the July 6 letter, an announcement for a Dickerson fundraiser was sent out using the same postal meter employed for the earlier mailing.
Also named in the suit are anti-gay activist Dr. Frank Simon; Freedom's Heritage Forum and the American Family Association of Kentucky, two groups associated with Simon; and Peter Hayes, Dickerson's campaign manager, an associate of Simon's who is running for the 4th ward aldermanic seat.
The marked up copy of the personals ads exactly matches another sent out by one of Simon's groups in March 1997. Simon has used the ads repeatedly since at least September 1996 as part of his efforts at fighting a proposed gay civil rights ordinance.
Two of the ads were placed by adult men seeking, respectively, a “boy toy” and a “nudist boy.” The third was from an adult woman seeking a “baby dyke.” Simon has claimed on several occasions that the ads are from adults seeking sex with children. But the two male ads clearly show age requirements of 18 and over, and in the female ad, the term “baby dyke” is lesbian slang for a young adult lesbian and not a baby.
. . .
Another clue as to the origin of the July 6 letter is a certain spelling technique common to much of Simon's mailings. Inappropriate capitalizations of such words as “homosexual” and “special rights” appear routinely in Simon's literature, as they do in the July 6 letter.
He also closes his letters with such phrases as “Your Servant in Christ,” in much the same way as the July 6 letter ended above Dickerson's signature line. Tantalizing clues that aren't enough in themselves to lead back to his doorstep, but in combination with other information very well could.
Frank Simon, of note, has typically done this with the full support, blessings, and media facilities of his church–including not only the use of robocalls from church members in past, but also mailings from the church and use of the church TV station. (That is, when the church pastor isn't handing out Freedom's Heritage Forum voter's guides in the pews.) Having walked away from Simon's church, I'm all too aware of this.
Fortunately, Beshear stays classy
John Yarmuth was similarly targeted in the KY-03 race–he stayed classy, though, even outright parodying some of the attack ads against him.
Beshear is also staying classy and not wrestling with the pig:
UPDATE 6:05 p.m.: Beshear's campaign has put out an automated phone message responding to the anonymous ad.
“Ernie Fletcher is spreading lies to scare you,” says Rev. John Dunaway, a retired Baptist minister who has volunteered in the Beshear campaign. “Don't fall for the last-minute dirty tricks.”
2) There are a number of reports of some callers having received Caller ID info–namely one pointing to number 1-800-611-0244 (this along with reports of falsified 000-000-0000 CID info and reports that Fletcher's office has claimed Beshear staffers are responsible).
A Google search of the number reveals a good deal of phone spamming for GOP candidates (along with even less scrupulous things like phishing–it is apparently a very common number reported back from unscrupulous telemarketers). Two incidents of note include dead-agenting of a mayoral candidate outside of KY as well as a a candidate from Gwinnett County, GA; there are, of particular note, reports that calls directly from Fletcher's campaign identifying themselves as from Fletcher may have shown up with this CID info.
The CID info in and of itself should be taken with a grain of salt–Caller ID info is trivial to forge, and ANI records are a more reliable method of tracing the source of a phone call.
If you have received robocalls in KY and have not gotten calls since, punch *57 and then call your local telco; this will flag the ANI records for tracing. Also call the KY Elections Board (the number will be in your local Blue Pages).