Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent several years hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Are Gay Conservatives Welcome at CPAC?

In February, conservatives from around the country will gather in Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a major pow wow for aspiring candidates and activists alike. Anyone looking to run for the GOP presidential nomination for 2012 will likely be there to greet the faithful. But socially conservative Christians, including Jerry Falwell Jr. and the American Family Association, are threatening to boycott the influential event this year. Why? Because the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, has allowed a gay group to co-sponsor the event. GOProud members, like the usual CPAC attendees, are committed to free markets, individual freedoms, and limited government. The group was formed by gay conservatives who found the Log Cabin Republicans too liberal for their tastes. But in mid-December, Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber started spreading the alarm about GOProud's participation in CPAC. He wrote in an email:

“I was disturbed to learn that CPAC is allowing the ‘Republican’ homosexual activist group GOProud to sponsor a booth at the 2010 conference. Among other things, GOProud advocates in favor of both ‘gay marriage’ and ‘civil unions,’ against pro-marriage constitutional amendments ; is pushing for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and advocates in favor of federal ‘partnership benefits’ for homosexuals. This group is pushing a radical leftist agenda that is an affront to the GOP platform, conservatism and, most importantly, the Word of God.”

Liberty Counsel and others have given CPAC organizers an ultimatum, threatening to urge all social conservatives to withdraw from the event if GOProud isn't booted. To its credit, CPAC seems to be standing firm. Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud's executive director, says that while the program has yet to be set, his group has all the privileges of any other co-sponsor at this point, and he directed me to a statement from CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale, who said in response to the boycott threats, "CPAC is a coalition of nearly 100 conservative groups, some of which may disagree with one another on a handful of issues.  But, at the end of the day, we all agree on core conservative principles.... After talking with their leadership and reviewing their website, I am satisfied that they do not represent a “radical leftist agenda,” as some have stated, and should not be rejected as a CPAC cosponsor." 

CPAC's response sets up an interesting dynamic: Will conservative Christians follow through on their threat and give up their kingmaking role at CPAC and influence on the 2012 presidential election just because they don't want to be in the room with a few gay guys? My guess is that they will suck it up and still show up in force in February.

 

Lieberman's Office Calls Cops on Tea Partiers

Tea party activists were on Capitol Hill today lobbying their senators to vote against the pending health care bill. For the most part it was a pretty peaceful exercise in free speech. But Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Mark Meckler says this afternoon, he and a group of activists were met with some "pretty interesting thuggery" when they paid a visit to Sen. Joe Lieberman's office, the man of the hour in the health care debate. Meckler says they went to Lieberman's office, asked for a meeting, and were told that the senator was unavailable. Meckler told the staffers that the group would wait and they all sat down.

But unlike in Sen. Barbara Boxer's office, where the group spent three hours this morning watching C-Span on nice leather couches while Senate staffers ignored them, Lieberman's staff called the cops, according to Meckler. He says that within five minutes of sitting down, Lieberman staffers threatened "to have us arrested and throw us out. We said we were just going to hang out, but they said 'you won't be meeting with the senator,' and they called the police." He says six capitol police showed up and that it was "very intimidating," so when the cops asked them to leave, "We did leave." Lieberman's office did not respond to an email seeking confirmation and the office phones are completely jammed, presumably with calls from other anti-health care activists. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police, could not confirm the details of the incident, but said that any calls from Lieberman's office may not have generated a report as long as no one was arrested.

UPDATE: Watch the video of the incident here.

 

 

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