The presidential campaign of Sen. Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., has decided to return a $1,000 contribution from an organization of gay Republicans on grounds that the group is at odds with his views.
Dole campaign spokesman Nelson Warfield said the $1,000 from the Log Cabin Republicans was accepted by mistake and returned Thursday after a newspaper columnist called it to the attention of the campaign high-command."Our policy is to decline contributions from political groups that have an agenda that is in opposition to Senator Dole's positions on the issues," Warfield said in a written statement. "We have received over 200,000 checks so far in this campaign. If we had been aware of this particular contribution in advance, it would not have been accepted."
In a telephone interview, Warfield said the gay Republican group's agenda is "100 percent at odds with Senator Dole's." For example, the group wants to lift a ban on allowing gays to serve in the military, while Dole, an Army veteran who was wounded in World War II, opposes such a move. Beyond that, Warfield said, the group supports a whole "special rights agenda" that Dole has rejected in favor of "equal treatment for all."
"Somebody is lying here," said David Greer, the Log Cabin Republican's director of public relations, in a phone interview. He said the campaign's finance officials were well aware of the group's character and they "wanted us on board" - until the GOP front-runner's recent slip in the polls and poorer-than-expected showing in the Iowa straw vote Aug. 20.
The group made available a copy of a May 24 letter from Dole's finance chairman, John Moran, urging them to turn out for political events and adding, "I am looking forward to working with you."
Dole spokesman Warfield said, "Some members of the (campaign's) finance team . . . may have cast the net too wide here," without the leadership's knowledge. He said the campaign manager has issued new instructions to the fund-raising team regarding contributions from political groups.
The flap arose after Deb Price, a writer whose column on lesbian and gay issues appears in the Detroit News and other newspapers, found a record of the group's June 19 contribution in Federal Election Commission files. In a column published Friday, she wrote that "two days after I notified his campaign office that I would be writing about the historic contribution, Dole is giving the $1,000 back."
Dole had been the first member of his party to accept a presidential campaign contribution from a national gay group, Price wrote. After his unexpectedly weak showing in the recent Iowa straw vote - the frontrunner tied with Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex. - for Dole to keep the gay contribution would have hurt him with the far right.