GOP strategist slams Simon

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 07 2002 12:00 AM ET

A veteran GOP strategist once claimed by Bill Simon's campaign as a "senior adviser" is dismissing the Republican nominee for governor as "inept, weak, and not very bright."

Lyn Nofziger, a former adviser and political director to Ronald Reagan in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., made the comments in an opinion piece posted on his personal Web site. Nofziger said that he never worked for Simon, despite a press release the campaign issued in June to announce that he was signing on as a "senior adviser."

"I never signed onto anything," Nofziger told the Los Angeles Times. "If I considered myself an adviser to the campaign, I wouldn't have written [the opinion piece]," he said. Nofziger wrote the opinion piece after controversy surfaced last week over Simon's responses on a questionnaire issued by gay political group Log Cabin Republicans.

Meanwhile, a group of gay Republicans who met with Simon on July 23 said Simon expressed unqualified support for gay equality and the rights of domestic partners, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They say Simon's expression of support for gay rights at the July 23 meeting was similar to positions the Republican candidate for governor took in answering a subsequent questionnaire from the Log Cabin Republicans--positions he disavowed this week in the face of pressure from conservatives and the religious right.

The group told the Chronicle that Simon told those at the meeting that a gay man had been one of his closest friends while he attended Williams College in Massachusetts. When the man later died of AIDS, Simon told the group, he ignored the hostility of some of his former classmates and proudly helped create a scholarship in the man's name. "He was definitely sympathetic to our concerns and said his administration would reach out to the gay community and he would bring gays into his administration," said Brian Bennett, a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and the principal organizer of the gathering.

Mark Miner, Simon's campaign spokesman, confirmed that Simon had attended the meeting on gay issues but declined further comment.

The meeting was organized by Bennett with the assistance of Alan Strasburg, who is the manager of the Los Angeles office of William E. Simon and Sons, Simon's family investment firm. Strasburg, incidentally, is openly gay. Simon worked in the Los Angeles office before taking a leave of absence to campaign for governor.

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