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Republicans dump gay leader, pick House Whip Blunt

John Byrne

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After earlier reporting that Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) was expected to succeed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) as majority leader, the decision has been reversed. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) will instead take up DeLay's post.

Sources tell RAW STORY that Dreier -- who was a shoo-in for the position -- was nixed for various reasons, in part because his sexuality would raise ire within the party ranks.

A second reason cited is that it would have meant that Doc Hastings (R-WA) would have become Rules Chairman in Dreier's place, meaning the Ethics Committee would change hands midstream. This was seen by leadership as a bad move, sources say.

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RAW STORY revealed Dreier was gay and lived with his chief of staff last year. LA Weekly then outed him, and he promptly disappeared from the television news show circuit. Our story, which originally ran Sept. 20, 2004, follows in full.

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A Republican congressman from California who has repeatedly voted against gay rights measures is said to be gay himself, and at least three MediaNews Group newspapers are said to have instructed its reporters not to ask questions about the congressman's sexuality or how it relates to public policy.

Brad Smith, Dreier’s chief of staff with whom he is said to have lived, is paid an unusually high salary relative to the chief of staffs of other powerful congressmen, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

After RAW STORY ran an article suggesting that Congressman David Dreier, R-CA, might be gay, Hustler Magazine revealed that they planned a major expose exploring the conflict between the congressman’s sexuality and his positions on gay rights.

Michael Rogers, the gay activist who outed Dreier Thursday on his site, blogACTIVE, said he “was especially interested in talking with Brad Smith about his living arrangements with the Congressman here in DC."

Challenger says she was aware he lived with Smith

Dreier's 2000 challenger has also said she was aware Dreier was living with Smith.

Dr. Janice Nelson, a professor of pathology and a medical director who lost to Dreier in 1998 and 2000, stated that her campaign was aware Rep. Dreier had lived with his chief of staff but opted not to make an issue of it during her campaign.

She said Dreier would rarely be seen publicly with Smith.

"Brad was like an invisible presence," she said. "They really have the routine down slick."

Nelson said she decided to come forward after she read on RAW STORY that Hustler was set to report that the local papers in Dreier's district had deliberately kept reporters from asking the congressman about his sexuality and his positions on gay rights.

Smith’s high salary has also raised eyebrows. During the last reporting period, Smith made $256,600, just $400 shy of the highest paid White House staff member, Assistant to the President Karl Rove, who made $257,000. It is also $400 less than President George W. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, who receives an annual salary of $257,000.

By comparison, the chief of staff to Bill Young, who chairs the even more prominent House Appropriations Committee, makes $251,956, more than $4,600 less than Smith. The chief of staff to Republican James Sensenbrenner, Jr., who chairs the House Committee on the Judiciary, made $226,000. The chief of staff to the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, made $200,696.

Local papers accused of shielding Dreier's gay truth

Hustler also released a letter sent to the editor of a newspaper in Dreier's district which suggests that the paper deliberately worked to keep Dreier's sexuality and his positions on gay issues off the front page.

“Hustler believes that the best way to deal with what appears to be glaring examples of hypocrisy is to expose them and bring them into full relief in front of the public,” the magazine said. “Our team of journalists in New York City covering the GOP convention struck gold—the details of which are to be published in an upcoming issue this fall.”

Hustler also says the media has played along in a charade to preserve the Dreier's heterosexual facade. They accused three MediaNews papers in Dreier’s local district of deliberately keeping their reporters from asking Rep. Dreier about his sexuality or his positions on issues relating to gay rights, saying that reporters would be fired if they asked.

Mark Cromer, a Hustler editor who has worked at the MediaNews papers, said the papers considered Dreier a "sacred cow." A MediaNews editor denied the charge.

The newsroom at least one of these papers was said to seriously questioning editors as to why they are not allowed to cover the nationally-breaking Dreier story, and an editor is reported to have slammed his first on the desk “as if to send the denial of a policy home.”

Still, the papers have reporting nothing as regards the congressman’s sexuality or his highly paid chief of staff, with whom he is said to have lived.

"The people in Dreier's district have to ask themselves: have they been served by their newspapers?" Cromer said.

Congressman regularly voted against gay rights

The 52-year-old single congressman voted for the Marriage Protection Act in July, a measure that would have stripped federal courts of jurisdiction over challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the federal government from recognizing gay partnerships. Dreier did not vote on the latest amendment to constitutionally ban gay marriage, and said he was against it.

Dreier, a Christian Scientist, also voted for the original Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and a measure that banned gays from adopting in Washington, D.C. He has a 92 percent favorability rating from the Christian Coalition, and was elected with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Hustler sent Dreier a letter Sept. 7 asking to interview him about the “intersection of human sexuality, national politics and the conservative agenda.” They have not received a response.

When asked if he was heterosexual on a Sirus Radio interview Aug. 31, Rep. Dreier refused to answer.

“I’m not going to talk about that issue,” Dreier said. “That’s really not what I’m here about.”

Viewed as shining star of House Republicans

Congressman Dreier is viewed as the Silicon Valley's man in Washington and an affable star of the House Republican leadership. In a July profile published by the San Jose Mercury News, the paper said he had become a leading public face for the party.

"More eloquent than understated House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and more ingratiating than tough-talking Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, Dreier has emerged as the House GOP leadership's public face on television," a reporter wrote.

Charlie Black, an adviser to the Bush re-election campaign, told the paper the Bush attitude is, ''Get him on every show you can.''

Rep. Dreier is the chair of the powerful Rules Committee in the House of Representatives. He played a large role in the recall of former California governor Gray Davis, and in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Originally published on Wednesday September 28, 2005.

 


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