Just days after GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would have no problem hiring gay employees, his campaign took steps to cover up the employment of a top gay adviser with a record of controversy in Madison’s LGBT community, according to a former Cain staffer.
Cain’s former Iowa straw poll coordinator, Kevin Hall, made the allegation in a letter applying for unemployment benefits and also in testimony during an unemployment insurance hearing last month.
The alleged cover-up involves Scott Toomey, treasurer of Cain’s political action committee and former senior political adviser of the campaign. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, Hall wrote that Toomey’s sexual orientation and allegations of misconduct in his role as treasurer of the Madison Pride Board “had become an issue” for several Cain supporters.
Madison Pride Board put on the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade before folding due to financial problems. The group removed Toomey as treasurer after learning that bills related to its 2007 event had not been paid and discovering other “financial discrepancies” that Toomey had failed to report.
Toomey held the event’s bank account and all of the money in it, as well as all of the financial records, said Steve Starkey, executive director of Madison’s Outreach. The records “just disappeared,” he said.
“(Board members) had no evidence against him because all the records had gone,” Starkey said.
According to Starkey, Toomey, who operated an event promotion company in Madison, was pocketing payments that his clients thought they were making to vendors, leaving the vendors unpaid.
“There were several examples of him doing that to Madison print companies,” Starkey said. “He did it at least three times that I know of. Then he moved to Florida after burning all his bridges with the gay and the business community here.”
After Toomey’s scam came to their attention, Madison Pride Board apologized to its supporters, scaled back its 2008 event and eventually folded.
Toomey reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2009. He later surfaced in Iowa as part of the anti-gay Cain’s presidential campaign.
The only African-American in the GOP presidential field, Cain is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. Since generating some initial support when he announced for the White House, Cain’s campaign has floundered and he has since remained mired in the lower tier of candidates.
In response to a question in Iowa on June 6, Cain said he would have no problem appointing gay staff members to work in his administration as long as they were qualified. That prompted conservative bloggers to point out Toomey’s role with the campaign.
In his testimony, Hall said that on June 9, campaign spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael told the staff to tell anyone who asked about Toomey that he was no longer involved with the campaign in any capacity.
But Hall said he learned weeks later that Toomey was still “very much involved” as an outside consultant through his firm The Soarin’ Group.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Toomey was last paid salary from the campaign June 13, but The Soarin’ Group started receiving payments the same month. Hall said he was not bothered by Toomey’s background, but aides knew it exposed Cain to charges of hypocrisy.
“A conservative candidate, Mr. Cain is on the record as stating that he believes homosexuality is a sin and a choice. 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,” Hall testified. “Basically the campaign was trying to cover up the fact that Mr. Toomey was still involved. They asked ... me to help them cover up that fact.”
A Cain campaign lawyer did not dispute Hall’s allegations. Hall was awarded the benefits he sought, with the judge ruling that he resigned only after the campaign tried to get him involved in the alleged cover-up, which could have damaged Hall’s career as a political consultant.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story