11/14/2006 10:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Did the HRC Try to Cover Up the Mark Foley Story?


The source for breaking the Mark Foley story on the Internet through the mysterious, new website "Stop Sex Predators" has been uncovered.  He's a moonlighting employee at the Human Rights Campaign.  Or, he was an employee at the Human Rights Campaign.  They fired him right after the story of his role in damaging the Republican party right before the election became public, for "misusing the group's resources."  What "resources" might those be? 

Lane Hudson, 29, the activist behind the web site, had briefly been employed by the HRC as an organizer in Michigan before being, er, outed for his role in the Foley story and canned.  Before that, he held staff positions for South Carolina Democrats:  former Senator Fritz Hollings and former Democratic South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges.

Hudson, a former White House intern, says he had been the recipient of non-sexual emails from Foley when he himself was young, but since then had learned more about Foley's activities.  Where?  He won't say.  All of which raises the question:  where did Mr. Hudson learn about Mark Foley's predations?  emptywheel put it to me this way in an email (she has more of her thoughts on this story here):

1) Did the HRC get and then sit on this information, in which case it  deserves to be brought down for protecting the GOP from  harassment out of (perhaps?) some effort not to antagonize the GOP?

2) Did they fire this guy because he got this info from inside the HRC, or only because he did something that cast suspicion on them? Why did they fire him? Did they have to fire him because they hadn't held up a deal they made with the GOP on this?

It's possible the GOP knew the HRC had this, and had arranged their silence. That would certainly explain why they attacked the Gayocrats so quickly, because they knew where this came from.

Furthermore, what is Jeff Trandahl's role in all this?  The former House clerk seems to have had in depth knowledge of the Foley story and all its ugly permutations for quite some time, while the House GOP covered it all up.  Mr. Trandahl, interestingly enough, sits on the Board of the HRC (h/t to Greg Greene via email).  Was Trandahl pushed out of his Clerk's job, perhaps over objections he may have had to the coverup?  Did he launder revenge through Mr. Hudson, or was he complicit in the coverup?  Did the HRC want to bury the information?  If not, why was Mr. Hudson fired?

I'm no fan of the HRC, and that should be stated outright in the interests of full disclosure.  Howie Klein and I have made our very public arguments known over the HRC's endorsement of Lieberman over Lamont.  The HRC is not in any sense an effective political gay rights organization. Their annual dinner was, I'm told, poorly attended this year, and my friends in DC tell me the negative publicity they got out of the Lieberman endorsement has caused many membership cancellations. I got a call from their outsourced membership drive outfit recently, and when I told the woman I would never give them money again and why, she said she would record my message in her notes, and it sounded to me as if I was not the first person to tell her what she heard.

They've long had problems in the gay community about their sellout ineffectiveness, their having been overrun by Republican board members, their cowardice and ineffectiveness as a political lobbying outfit. They have done better schmoozing the Fortune 500 for gay friendly business policies, but those policies are for the most part increasing in frequency across the country with or without their efforts.

But, if the HRC had any part in sitting on any knowledge of the Mark Foley story to protect its friends in the Republican party or to sustain its branding as a "non-partisan" (read:  neutered by Republicans) organization, the HRC should cease to exist.  It should garner no more donations from GBLT people, their families and their allies. 

No matter what the HRC's role in this saga, in my view, the best thing for the HRC would be to undergo an existential crisis, lose money, downsize from and leave its fancy office space, and try to remake itself apart from its nonpartisan conceit. . . but I don't think that realistically can happen. The organization is too compromised, too far gone. It probably needs to die: I don't think it can be reformed.

So, the questions remain:  regarding Mark Foley, what did the HRC know and when did its staffers know it?  Why was Lane Hudson fired?   Where did Mr. Hudson learn of Mark Foley's predations?  Mr. Hudson, if you're out there, feel free to contact me at pachacutec at firedoglake dot com.  You refused to tell the Washington Blade (which, thankfully, has finally dumped that epic idiot of an arrogant ass of a conservative hack of an editor, Chris Crain) the whole story, but the story needs telling.