Simon blames campaign staff for gay rights flap

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 06 2002 12:00 AM ET

Republican candidate for California governor Bill Simon said Wednesday that he neither saw nor signed a questionnaire on gay issues that has become the latest problem for his troubled campaign, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Simon blamed his campaign staff for answering and sending back a questionnaire submitted by gay political group the Log Cabin Republicans without his knowledge.

"A lot of these questionnaires go out," Simon said at a campaign stop in San Jose. "I don't see them all before they go out. I didn't see this, I didn't review it." Simon said that an unnamed staff member mistakenly wrote that Simon would back a statewide gay pride day, bringing a firestorm of criticism from his campaign's conservative supporters. On Tuesday, Simon hastily denied that he had ever supported the idea, a seeming turnaround that got him bounced as a scheduled speaker at a top-dollar fund-raiser put on by Republicans who support gay rights.

But E-mails obtained by the Chronicle show that top officials in Simon's campaign recognized the delicate nature of Log Cabin's survey, which asked for Simon's positions on such issues as gay marriage and domestic-partner legislation. In an August 9 E-mail to a campaign worker dealing with the Log Cabin Republicans, a top Simon aide said he would show the questionnaire to the candidate.

"Draft answers to questionnaire," wrote Ron Rogers, Simon's former campaign manager. "I have to get this version to Bill now. Please review and let me know if you have any MAJOR objections. Again, please do not share with anyone else."

Simon had no explanation for the E-mail. He denied Wednesday that pressure from conservatives forced him to change any of his positions. "My position hasn't changed," he said. "It's the same as it was last week, the same as it was a month ago."