A conservative antitax group on Thursday dropped a former legislator as president of its first state affiliate. Former Arizona state representative Steve May said it was because he is gay, which the group denies. The Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth had been criticized by some Arizona conservatives for its selection of May as head of its week-old Arizona affiliate. While critics questioned May's credentials as a conservative on fiscal and school-choice issues, May told the Associated Press, "The real issue is the gay issue. It's unfortunate." May said in a telephone interview that he received a voice mail from Club for Growth national president Stephen Moore saying the group "thinks we need to make a change in leadership to someone who is less objectionable and to someone who is not a lightning rod." As of late Thursday, Moore had declined to comment.
Club for Growth spokesman Kevin McVicker said the group "categorically denies that we are separating from Mr. May because he is gay. Rather it has to do with policy issues." He declined to elaborate. McVicker had acknowledged earlier that May's role as state president was under review because of complaints prompted by a social conservative, Len Munsil, president of the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy. On Monday, Munsil urged supporters in an electronic newsletter to contact Moore with E-mails to protest May's role. "Politely let him know conservatives will not support an organization led by a liberal gay activist who has declared war on social conservatives in Arizona," Munsil wrote.
The Club for Growth is a supply-side advocacy group that until now has sought only to influence the outcome of congressional races with donations and by running ads criticizing incumbents it opposes. The Arizona affiliate was to be the group's first foray into state-level politics.