Hello politicians! By now you should know that whatever you say ever and any email you send is fair game. We have had some very good examples in recent history. Mitt Romney found out all too well how words said in private meetings or behind closed doors have a way of leaking, like with his statement about Obama voters that was shared back in September 2012.
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. – motherjones.com
We're not going to play the Billy Bush Bus ride of political death, but that one may be just as damaging as the above video.
So who decided to test the waters and say something dumb behind closed doors?
In a closed-door meeting with the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2015, [Rep. Scott Garrett (R, N.J.)] reportedly said he would withhold his dues unless the party stopped supporting gay candidates. After those comments leaked to the press, Garrett found himself doing damage control.
"I have no problems with anyone running for office," Garrett told an interviewer from New Jersey public broadcaster NJTV earlier this year. "I support the Republican platform. Which I think you just mentioned is supporting of traditional marriage."
Now Garrett's comments are creating problems for his reelection bid. In 2012 and 2014, financial firms donated an average of $600,000 per cycle to Garrett's campaigns. After his anti-gay remarks, that number dropped by half. Capital One, Goldman Sachs, and big Japanese brokerage firm Nomura all stopped payments to Garrett's political action committee.
"There are real risks from a brand perspective, and from a talent-recruiting perspective, from being associated with anti-LGBT, or anti-inclusive policies," says Todd Sears, a former investment banker and founder of Out Leadership, a group that promotes LGBT awareness in financial firms and other industries.
Garrett's situation underscores how quickly the politics around LGBT issues have shifted. It wasn't long ago that support for LGBT rights could have been a political liability in all but a handful of Congressional districts. Now polls show growing support for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights generally, especially among millennials. "It's not just a fringe issue, as it might have been 10 years ago," says Sears.
The Republican Party is still wrestling with how to respond. The party has supported a handful of gay candidates, which is what prompted Scott Garrett to withhold his dues in the first place.
"His anti-gay comments are just one part of a very extreme Tea Party record that's now out there," says Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton who went on to work for Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. "I think as you peel back the onion here, people say 'Wait a second, I didn't realize just how extreme this guy is,'" Gottheimer says.
Gottheimer has raised more than $3 million, which has allowed the campaign to air TV ads [like the one below] in one of the country's most expensive media markets. And the race has become a top target for House Majority PAC, which has spent more than $1.5 million attacking Scott Garrett.
Democrats hope to persuade people like Karen Gerbatsch, a registered Republican and self-described fiscal conservative who's voted for Garrett before.
"I started looking at Scott Garrett and what he represents, and it's not me," says Gerbatsch. "The woman's right to choose isn't there. Legal rights for people of all sexual orientation to get married is not there." – npr.org
Can we vote for the grandmother?
It's great to see businesses support LGBT rights especially with their financial support, but we all know as well that anti-LGBT politicians gain support from groups and individuals that just don't see equality as a human thing.
Money talks and it's good to see supporting LGBT rights do, too.
Remember people, if you have nothing good to day, don't say it behind closed doors … or send it in an email.