The Republican LGBT group GOProud denies that it is closing its doors for good, but is rather engaging in a “re-branding” effort to distance itself from past controversies. The Bilerico Project reported, however, that the denials are just a sop to anxious donors while the current directors of the group attempt to distance themselves from a PR “disaster.”
On Sunday, Bilerico’s Andy Markle wrote that when founders Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia left GOProud, donors fled.
“Finding it difficult to continue without securing more funding, GOProud will be shutting down immediately,” said Markle.
“The organization may rebrand and regroup later, but for now, the organization will no longer be functioning,” he said. “Co-director Matthew Bechstein stated in an interview that the ‘brand is broken’ and a rebrand is necessary.”
GOProud immediately denied the story, publishing a statement on its website and on Facebook that quoted Bechstein as saying, “The truth is, GOProud has had some preliminary discussions about rebranding. That is, changing our name. As with any organization — when new challenges arise, we react with necessary adjustments.”
“There have been concerns among our members and investors, about whether or not we can continue to grow and be effective without severing ourselves from past controversies. Nonetheless, at this point nothing has been decided. We are still discussing all the possibilities, and would be months away from instituting any real changes,” he said.
Bechstein admitted to spinning the truth to Bilerico’s Bill Browning on Monday, saying he’d issued the comforting statements “so I wouldn’t scare our members and thwart our fundraising efforts.” He was only trying, he said, “to mitigate a disaster.”
According to the Advocate, Bechstein is trying to have it both ways, claiming that GOProud will be the same organization, but will operate under a different name and with a modified agenda.
“The organization, founded in 2009, has seen its share of controversy, from outside criticism and within its own ranks,” wrote the Advocate‘s Sunnivie Brydum. “Last year, GOProud founder Jimmy LaSalvia left the organization and the Republican Party, slamming GOP leaders in an interview with The Advocate‘s editorial director, Lucas Grindley.”
However, as Bilerico noted, “While Bechstein claims that filing dissolution paperwork with the federal government would necessitate ‘immediate subsequent reorganization,’ this is not a requirement from the government. The group will simply be dissolved. Any new group formed would have to file independent paperwork as needed depending on how they reorganize.”
The attempts to spin the group’s dissolution as a sign of growth, Bechstein admitted to Bilerico, were a ruse. When news broke via Markle’s article that group was shutting down, Bechstein “(p)anicked that the news had broken before all participants had been informed” and rushed to print a denial.
“Let me be clear, no matter what happens, our grassroots infrastructure and our daily activism will continue throughout any possible transition,” Bechstein said to Bilerico on Monday. “We do not plan to stop working. What has made this organization strong in the past is the support and devotion of our membership, I don’t expect that to waver in the future.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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