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Bigwig Beltway law firm to salute ace professional anti-gay partner Cleta Mitchell at big bash during GOP convention

Foley & Lardner, a major DC law firm, is rolling out the red carpet to honor one of its partners — Cleta Mitchell — later this month at a big shindig in Tampa. Many right wingers will be there to partake in the salute to her — Jim DeMint (SC), James Inhofe (OK), Marco Rubio (FL), Rick Santorum, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Al Cardenas, Chairman of American Conservative Union and Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President, of National Rifle Association, among other luminaries. You can see the e-blast of the invite below the fold.

Oh yes, Cleta knows Cardenas well — she is also chair of the American Conservative Union  — it puts on the Conservative Political Action Conference each year. She has a major problem with TEH GAY. You might recall that Mitchell was one of the key players in the decision to have the gay (and allies) conservative group GOProud booted from its conference sponsor rolls and made the group officially unwelcome at the conference. She was also tapped by the National Organization for Marriage to lobby for the marriage discrimination amendment in Minnesota.

 The irony is that her law firm, which has an outstanding diversity policy, chooses to look away when it comes to Cleta Mitchell’s professional homophobia.

And that’s even after Cleta’s American Conservative Union was slapped with a discrimination lawsuit by out gay GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger.

As a Republican candidate for President, I had hoped to be invited to speak at CPAC 2012, but once again I was not invited to join my fellow candidates.  So I applied to purchase an exhibitor booth at the CPAC trade show.  Having been denied a booth last year because CPAC claimed it was “sold out,” I applied extra early this time on November 30, 2011.  I sent in my application in so early in fact that I qualified for the “early bird discount.”  I was sure this time that CPAC could not use the same excuse as last year, but it turned out that it did.  CPAC has denied my request to purchase a booth at their trade show for the second year in a row.

I have never heard back from anyone with CPAC, but they issued a statement when asked about my application on January 24, 2012.  CPAC communications director Kristy Campbell told BuzzFeed, “The ACU is sold out of exhibitor space for CPAC 2012, and priority is given to previous sponsors and partner organizations.”

And here’s where things stood in May. (Huff Po):

In a little noticed ruling last week, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights denied the [American Conservative Union Foundation] ACUF’s effort to throw out a complaint alleging that it had discriminated against Karger on the basis of his sexuality. Karger has said he was deprived of a booth and speaking spot at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which is a project of the ACUF, because he is gay.

The ACUF tried to have the complaint dismissed, arguing that it doesn’t run CPAC — rather, the related but separate American Conservative Union does — and has a First Amendment right to chose who speaks at its events. The group also argued that its disagreement with Karger was over his support for gay marriage and not his own sexual orientation. Gustavo Velasquez, the Office of Human Rights’ director, rebuffed that argument, and found that “an investigation is warranted” into the causes of Karger’s exclusion from CPAC.

The resulting proceedings could prove uncomfortable for the conservative movement at a time when the debate over gay rights is at the forefront of the public consciousness. Karger is hardly alone when it comes to feeling excluded from the Republican Party because of his sexuality. GOProud, a pro-gay rights conservative group, was also barred from CPAC this year. Its executive director, Jimmy LaSalvia, told The Huffington Post that the group “will cooperate with any government investigation we are asked to participate in.”

Karger isn’t going to back down, and said that he had a list of 10 demands that he wants met by Cleta’s ACU before he will drop the complaint.


Read about why Foley & Lardner Honoree Mitchell’s strident public homophobia  may be rooted in her personal history — she was married to a closeted gay man.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding