Herman Cain has said he’d have no problem with a gay cabinet official in the White House, but one ex-aide is accusing his campaign of deliberately hiding a top staffer over fears his orientation would anger religious conservatives.
The allegation comes from legal testimony by Cain’s former Iowa-focused aide, Kevin Hall, as part of a successful bid to require the campaign to pay unemployment benefits after his resignation. According to the Associated Press, a Cain campaign lawyer did not dispute his account in a hearing on the case and a judge sided with Hall’s account in awarding him his benefits.
Hall says the campaign told staffers that Cain’s senior political adviser and treasurer of his PAC, Scott Toomey, was no longer with the team only days after Cain said in a debate he would let qualified gay staffers work in the White House. The comment prompted conservative bloggers to begin highlighting Toomey’s orientation. But despite officially leaving, Toomey ended up returning to campaign work an independent consultant, a move that Hall suggested was designed to “cover up” his role in the campaign.
“A conservative candidate, Mr. Cain is on the record as stating that he believes homosexuality is a sin and a choice,” Hall said in testimony. “And they know that, if his top adviser, his highly paid adviser, is openly gay that it would cast a negative light on Mr. Cain and would cost him in his efforts to become president.”
A spokeswoman for the Cain campaign, Ellen Carmichael, told the AP that Toomey “is no longer a staffer, which was the 100 percent truth,” but that he did do some work for the campaign through a consulting firm after he left. However, she added that he no longer works in any capacity on the campaign and “his sexuality is not this campaign’s business.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.