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Raw Story Exclusive
2004 Congressional Campaigns
Rep. David Dreier's challenger says she's a lesbian, and blasts Dreier's gay positions

By John Byrne | RAW STORY EDITOR

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In a surprising twist to an already unusual California congressional race, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Congressman David Dreier has told RAW STORY that she is a lesbian, and has made a series of conditional statements rebuking Dreier’s position on gay issues while concurrently questioning the payment arrangements with his chief of staff Brad Smith.

Her statement makes this the first known time in history an openly gay candidate has run against another candidate also believed to be gay. The L.A. Times, presented with this information, has said they are not planning a story.

Democrat Cynthia Matthews, who has not kept her sexuality secret from the press, said Saturday that she was proud of her relationship with her same-sex partner.

“I have been in an eleven year relationship with my partner,” Matthews said, “and refuse to run for office if I would be required to relegate my partner to the closet.”

While not rendering judgment on the veracity of the allegations against Dreier – that he has led a closeted 24-year tenure in Congress while concurrently voting against gay civil rights, and that he lived with his chief of staff whom he pays an unusually high salary – Matthews condemned Dreier’s positions on gay issues.

If the allegations are true, she added, Dreier should be ashamed.

“If David Dreier is gay, it is absolutely shameful to me that he would amass a 24-year voting record against his own community,” Matthews said. “I am saddened that David Dreier has voted against funding housing for people with AIDS and that he has denied AIDS medications to impoverished Americans -- those who are most in need of these life-saving drugs.”

Matthews said she was alarmed by a report first published by RAW STORY that Dreier has paid his chief of staff – with whom he is alleged to have had a gay relationship – much more than others in similar positions.

During the last reporting period, Smith made $156,600, just $400 shy of the highest paid White House staff member, Assistant to the President Karl Rove, who made $157,000. It is also $400 less than President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, who receives an annual salary of $157,000.

Smith also makes more than the chief of staffs to House congressman chairing the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

“I am especially concerned about the allegations regarding Congressman Dreier’s decision to pay his chief of staff at a rate higher than those with similar positions and experience,” she said.

Dreier's former challenger, Democrat Janice Nelson, has said that she was aware Dreier was living with his chief of staff, but chose not to make an issue of it during her 2000 campaign.

Further, Matthews asserted that by voting against rights for gays and lesbians, Dreier has enabled closeted gays in government positions to shield their relationships from the same kind of scrutiny given straight couples. Matthews suggested this contributed to situations where gays were allowed to compensate their partners at the taxpayer’s expense.

“By voting against equality for lesbian and gay people,” she said, “David Dreier contributes to a culture that allows closeted gays and lesbians to pay those with whom they have personal relationships from the government payroll.”

“An example of this,” she continued, “was recently seen in New Jersey when it was uncovered that Governor James McGreevey had hired a man with whom he had had a sexual relationship for a position that he was not qualified.”

Dreier’s office could not be reached for comment on Matthew’s statements. To date, the congressman has said nothing to confirm or deny the allegations, and has hung up reporters and constituents seeking comment.

Congressman Dreier was the focus of a Sept. 23 LA Weekly article titled “The Outing,” which lambasted his seeming hypocrisy by voting against gay civil rights while leading a gay life himself. Dreier was first outed by activist blogger Mike Rogers, on his website blogACTIVE.com.

Before she elected to run for Congress, Matthews worked as a union engineer. She is currently pursuing an MBA with an international emphasis.

 

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