Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Straw Poll, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (AP)

Herman Cain's gay staffer cover-up

Former Iowa staffer says the campaign secretly retained the services of a gay treasurer with a checkered history

Alex Pareene
September 14, 2011 9:25PM (UTC)

While suing the campaign for unemployment benefits, Herman Cain's former Iowa straw poll coordinator says the campaign attempted to cover up the fact that they had a prominent gay staffer.

Kevin Hall, the former straw poll coordinator, was frustrated that Cain didn't spend enough time in Iowa in the run-up to the straw poll. He was also upset that the campaign was covering up their employment of Scott Toomey, Cain's PAC treasurer and a senior aide until May of this year, when the campaign told everyone Toomey was no longer with them. Which wasn't quite true.


The AP has the slightly complicated story:

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," he 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."

[Cain spokeswoman Ellen] Carmichael said she's never spoken to Hall but acknowledged instructing [former Cain Iowa director Tina] Goff that Toomey "is no longer a staffer, which was the 100 percent truth." She said Toomey left the campaign's employment in May and he later did work through a consulting firm he formed. She said Toomey is no longer a Cain staffer or consultant but "his sexuality is not this campaign's business" and not the reason for his departure.

Hall testified that campaign manager Mark Block told him June 29 the campaign would conceal Toomey's continued employment by paying his newly-formed consulting firm so his name would not show up in disclosure filings. Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Toomey, of Chicago, was last paid salary from the campaign June 13. The Soarin' Group, which Hall testified was Toomey's firm, started receiving payments the same month.

The campaign seems to have decided to disassociate itself with Toomey because of the gay thing (or because of the "hypocrisy"), and not because of the fact that Toomey has a history of financial shenanigans. While treasurer of the Madison Pride Board, Toomney failed to pay bills and didn't report "financial discrepancies." When Madison Pride canned him, he moved to Florida and eventually declared bankruptcy, with $20,000 in legal judgments against his promotional company. The Cain campaign distanced itself from Toomey but continued paying him to work for them, which indicates more of a problem with him than with his work history.

Herman Cain did explicitly say that while a Herman Cain administration will discriminate against Muslims, he would have no problem hiring a qualified gay person. But he will apparently also hire gay people with questionable qualifications and then fake-fire them while keeping them secretly employed in order to not upset anti-gay people, too. That's true leadership.


Also for a while there a top Herman Cain staffer was also a former organizer of the Madison Pride Parade, what a world.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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