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A recent post over at Pam's House Blend notes the sudden departure of one of the more "interesting" voices from the Yes on 8 side of the Prop 8 battle:

"I no longer feel comfortable being allied with the people running the Prop. 8 campaign ... I have made a tentative decision not to publicize the disturbing information that caused me to end my promotion of man-woman marriage in the United States. But there is very little that I know about those subjects that a journalist, blogger, or activist cannot find out through diligent googling ..."
     -- former proprietor of the disturbing blog "Gays Defend Marriage," David Benkof to Truth Wins Out's Wayne Besen, July 14

A journalist, blogger or activist I may not be, but a googler?  Pardon me, but as Harvey Lime might say ... googling is my forte.

Benkof has taken down his I'm-gay-and-voting-yes-on-Prop-8 website, announced that he's taking his ball and going home, and declined to explain the reasons behind his abrupt exit, other than to suggest that they'd become apparent to anyone willing to undertake a little diligent googling of his erstwhile allies.

So, first stop, we find out who the folks are running the Yes on 8 campaign in California, and from there, our googly Easter Rotten Egg hunt gets under way, as we set out to speculate on the specifics of Benkof's "disturbing information" ...

The coalition behind the campaign have hired Schubert Flint Public Affairs to handle Prop 8 PR.  Setting aside the question of who's funding the coalition, let's take a look at Schubert-Flint, since they seem to be the people getting paid to coordinate and deliver the Yes on 8 vote.

At SF we've got the two principals, Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint, and their new hire, Jennifer Kerns, who's recently been brought on as Communications Director for SF's Prop 8 effort.  These three names strike me as perhaps the most useful terms for getting our google on.  Let's go ...

Frank Schubert:

Before I start googling for dirt on Frank, I need to thank him for his assist with the title of this diary:

California Republicans: put a fork in it

Thanks, Frank.  

But getting back to our googling, perhaps Benkof was a big fan of Proposition 86, and having learned of your role in that initiative battle, wanted nothing to do with your Prop 8 campaign?

The price that campaigns are willing to pay became apparent to Los Angeles actor Rico Simonini. Like most actors, he has a side job, but not as a waiter. He is Dr. Americo Simonini, a Beverly Hills cardiologist with privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

When a casting call went out for a doctor-actor to read a commercial, Simonini auditioned and the producers liked what they saw. But then Simonini realized what he'd be doing: siding with the tobacco industry.

Like many healthcare experts, Simonini believes the tobacco tax, being pushed mainly by hospitals, would dissuade some people — particularly children — from smoking.

"I'm a cardiologist. I can't do this," Simonini said.

When he politely declined the work, he said he was told the $5,000 fee could double if the initiative's proponents could use his name and identify him as a physician. If the ad ran for the duration of the campaign, the pay would multiply accordingly.

Simonini still has student loans to repay. But it wasn't worth it.

"It would have been a feather for them to have a doctor come on board," Simonini said, but he felt there was no choice. "There are people working very cleverly to achieve their ends, to undermine what is good for us. Why? ... So much is at stake."

Frank Schubert, who is overseeing part of the No-on-86 campaign, said that although he has no idea how much money Simonini was offered, the campaign would have paid the doctor only a modest sum, for the time taken away from his patients.

Schubert added: "He would have had to have agreed with the script. We never got to that point."

So, was it disappointment with Frank Schubert's role in defeating Proposition 86?  Somehow I doubt it, but I enjoyed the story of the conscientious cardiologist so much, I just had to include it here.  Moving on ...

Jennifer Kerns:

Admittedly, I didn't find much on Jennifer, other than some contact info and an example of the stellar work she's begun doing on behalf of Yes on 8 ...

Here's how to reach Jennifer:

Jennifer@KStreetCommunications.com
K Street Communications
4071 S. Land Park Dr.
Sacramento, California 95822
United States
(916) 420-2888

Otherwise, you can reach Jennifer on her alternate email at jenniferkerns@earthlink.net.

And I'd suggest you might want to use both when contacting Jennifer, and that you might want to make your message a double-barreled LOL in her direction, for coming off the starting blocks at her new job in such fine form with this doozy:

One of our campaign cornerstones will be the fact that if the initiative [to ban gay marriage in California] doesn't pass that public schools will be forced to teach the difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.

Because, you know, if Prop 8 were to pass in California, it would enable us to prevent our kids from ever finding out that gay marriage actually exists in other countries.  And even if they were to somehow become aware of that unfortunate reality all on their own, at least we'd be able to explain to them that it's not something we talk about in this country ...

In any case, Jennifer, you're new on the job.  No matter how inane your recent pronouncements, I kinda doubt they're what pushed Benkof over the edge.  Moving on ...

Jeff Flint:

Where to begin with Jeff?  How about in no particular order?  OK?  Great, let's go:

Did Benkof lose faith when he realized that Jeff will work both sides of an issue if the pay is right?  Just follow the link and scroll down to The Bad Guys (Lobbyists and California Consultants).

Or does Benkof have a beef with Jeff's work as Association Manager of CALSAGA?  Perhaps he began to wonder why Jeff's PR firm (Schubert Flint) writes CALSAGA's press releases?  

Or perhaps Benkof learned that Jeff helped get Curt Pringle elected, then turned around and worked for EarthLink as a consultant in the sale of their Muni WiFi scheme to Pringle's office?  Maybe he was mostly disappointed in how poorly the scheme served the citizens who paid for it?

It might be that Benkof resents Jeff's work to defeat Proposition 89, which was designed to get corporate $$ out of California initiatives.

Then again, it could also be Jeff's work for the Small Business Action Committee.  If, like me, Benkof favors unions over tobacco companies, I understand his concern.  For sure, Jeff is no friend of unions.

Or maybe it was just something that Jeff did during any one of these campaigns:  Pringle '98, Hatch '00, or Ose '08?

Pringle 1998

Respondent Curt Pringle ... was a candidate for State Treasurer ... in the ... 1998 general election ... Respondent Jeff Flint was the paid campaign manager ...

In the campaign statements filed for the 1998 calendar year, Respondents failed to disclose subvendor information for payments totaling $1,629,292, in violation of section 84211, subdivision (j)(6), and section 84303 of the Government Code.  Of the subvendor expenditures not disclosed, approximately $1,590,800 was for payments to Russo Marsh & Raper, Inc., to purchase broadcast advertising, and approximately $38,491 was for payments to Flint Nelson Associates and Linda Kasem, for travel and office expenses.

... the evidence in this case establishes that Respondent Jeff Flint is primarily responsible for the occurrence of the subvendor reporting violations.

Hatch 2000

Hatch's friends and supporters back in Utah say they know who's to blame for this mess ... Some Hatch intimates are involved, but too many people who care about Hatch have been pushed to the periphery, replaced by highly paid lobbyists and consultants.

"The only people with their sleeves rolled up for Orrin are people whose incomes are directly affected by his race," the Utah Hatch insider says. "Like the lobbyists back in D.C. who -- whether he's president, which he's not going to be, or chairman of Judiciary -- they make a lot of money."

... "outsiders" running the Hatch campaign are Sal Russo of Russo Marsh, who's running the national operation, and communications director [Jeff] Flint, both of whom are located in Sacramento, Calif. -- 650 miles away from Salt Lake City.

When asked why the spokesman for a presidential candidate who shuttles between Utah and Washington, D.C. is headquartered in Sacramento, Flint says, "This is where our company is based."

"It's a cash cow for them," says one Washington pol. "The only reason the operation keeps going is because the paychecks keep coming in and they say, 'Yeah, Orrin, yeah, Orrin, you can do it, Orrin, just wait until Bush stumbles and you'll be the nominee, Orrin.'"

Doug Ose 2008

Just when I thought that Doug Ose's pitiful campaign could not sink any lower, they managed to find a way. Ose actually dug past the proverbial bottom of the barrel right into that wastewater that he keeps talking about in every debate!

To the shock and disgust of everyone present, Ose actually brought the parent of a baby who had been shaken to death by a babysitter to speak in favor of -- you guessed it -- Doug Ose's miserable campaign for Congress. The bereaved parent said Tom McClintock had voted against funding a special government program to inform parents not to shake their babies to death, so now he was supporting Ose. It was really a pathetic speech to hear and I felt sick to see Ose sink so low ... If Doug Ose gets elected, I guess he wants us to believe that he will use earmarks to get federal funding for a program telling parents not to throw their babies from airplanes, feed them ground glass, shake them unmercifully, strangle them, or whatever.

Even with Jeff's fundraising support, and the 6-1 spending advantage it helped create, Ose lost bigtime.

Which leads me to wonder if maybe Benkof's retreat isn't really about Frank Schubert, or Jennifer Kerns, or Jeff Flint ... maybe it was simply the looming prospect of losing bigtime that finally sapped the joy out of Benkof's crusade?  Did he happen to read that letter to the LA Times from a Republican strategist that suggested that "political mistakes have put the proposed same-sex marriage ban on the rocks" ??

Putting Proposition 8 on a high-turnout November presidential election ballot is dumb. Trying to pass it once same-sex marriages have become a legal, daily occurrence throughout the state is dumber. And now, if Californians vote it down, conservatives can't blame judicial tyranny for imposing same-sex marriage on the unhappy masses ...

Will Californians now vote to render those marriages invalid? I don't think so.

Maybe Benkof finally figured out that he didn't think so, either.  Whatever his reasons, I appreciate Benkof's invitation to google away on this topic, but must say it's been enough googling for one day.  Cheers.

July 15th update:  My wild guess is that Obama's gonna win big in California this November.  If I'm right about that, I have to wonder what Jeff Flint, co-campaign manager for the California Protection of Marriage initiative (the Yes on 8 side), thinks he's accomplishing by posting comments like these over at his place at the Red County blog:

I'm for change....blah blah blah...I's for bringing people together...blah blah blah...let me quote Obama some more....blah blah blah....

As a partner at Schubert Flint Public Affairs, and as "one of the most widely respected public affairs and political professionals in the state of California" (according to the Schubert Flint website), you'd think he'd be savvy enough to avoid

a) pissing off California's Obama supporters, and

b) sounding like a 12-year-old Al Jolson.

If this is the best PR that the ProtectMarriage.com coalition money can buy, well, then it's already time to put a fork in Yes on 8, because it's done.

July 28th update:  I'd like to thank Art over at the OJ Blog for helping bring attention to "Googling Gay Marriage" ...

http://orangejuiceblog.com/...

Thank you, Orange Juice Blog!

Chino Blanco

Originally posted to Chino Blanco on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 11:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Links, not tips, please? (9+ / 0-)

    There's gotta be plenty more info on Frank, Jennifer and Jeff out there ... If enough moderate Californians can get a clue about the crew at the wheel of Prop 8, it's gonna be a rout come November.

    Schubert Flint have never worked for moderate causes.  They are hard-right GOP PR flacks who made their names selling the Iraq war (google "Jeff Flint" and "Move America Forward") and selling America down the river to some of the dirtiest of our corporations.

    •  Have a tip anyway (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chino Blanco

      I'm going to tip you anyway, as I do not have any links to offer. I can only hope that if Prop 8 goes down to defeat, which it ought to, that Washington's state legislature will get on the equal-marriage bandwagon and my friends and community members can finally get married to their partners without having to go up to Canada to do it.

      Want to be a living kidney donor? I need one from someone with a bloodtype of B or O. Drop a note at riverheart.livejournal.com.

      by Kitsap River on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:12:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the discussion on Pam's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, KentuckyKat

    is a game of David "I'm quitting but I won't say why but you all SUCK" trying to stay relevant.  Perhaps there is not revelation, as one of the Pam's posters suggests, merely David getting his knickers in a twist and wanting more attention.

    But nice work on the Prop 8 people.  Keep it updated!

  •  Public schools now teach about marriage? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chino Blanco

    I must have slept through that course. How interesting that this course on marriage will now have to be expanded to include the difference between gay and straight marriage. Oh, wait.

    Guess I'll have to go back to wasting my time on trigonometry and geography.

    Bring me a blind camel.

    by pucklady on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 06:00:28 AM PDT

  •  I guess Jeff Flint doesn't need Obama voters (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.redcounty.com/...

    JEFF FLINT SAID:

    I'm for change....blah blah blah...I's for bringing people together...blah blah blah...let me quote Obama some more....blah blah blah....

    JULY 15, 2008 11:10 PM

    •  Your research (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chino Blanco

      Chino-

      I admire your careful research. At the risk of sounding like Yoda, I thought I would give you some feedback:

      What you found was interesting, and your googling instincts are really quite good, but my impression (and remember I'm a conservative Republican) is that virtually nothing you found would change the mind of anyone who isn't, well, a Daily Kos reader. And the anti-8 campaign pretty much already has them.

      You do know that at least one conservative Republican has found stuff on the Internet that caused him to disavow an initative that he believes in. So it shouldn't be too hard to find stuff that would cause moderate voters (the ones up for grabs) - say the voters who live in the San Fernando Valley or Contra Costa County - to blanch and say "If these are the guys behind it, I want no part of it."

      There are a few things in the fire that if they happen I'm going to call a reporter at a major publication and tell them everything I know. (If the DailyKos readers stay nice to me and you continue to show good searching skills, maybe I'll contact you.) If not, I will be pleased if someone like you finds it on your own (though I don't feel comfortable holding your hand and giving you the urls).

      Still, of anything I've seen on the Web, you have the best instincts and it wouldn't surprise me if you stumble upon the right stuff.

      •  "Fear is the path to the dark side ... (0+ / 0-)

        Fear leads to anger.
        Anger leads to hate.
        Hate leads to suffering."

        Now that sounds like Yoda.

        I think you're right about what this diary doesn't accomplish.  I'd agree there's likely nothing here that'd move a pro-8 voter.  Although, if you were familiar with my previous diaries (for example, this one), you'd understand where I'm coming from, and why it matters to me who gets hired to run the Pro-8 campaign.  

        I grew up Mormon.  If the LDS Church hadn't gotten involved with Prop 8, I wouldn't be paying as much attention as I am to this initiative.  My own sense is that the best outcome for the LDS Church is if Prop 8 is defeated.  If it is, this episode can be written off as a tactical error.  But if Prop 8 passes, I think the church's involvement is going to taint their image and hinder their mission for years to come.

        In any case, working from the obvious position that it's moderate voters who're gonna decide this thing, I think the pro-8 campaign so far has been a gift to those of us opposed to the amendment.

        Anyone can identify the need to appeal to moderates in this battle, but what genius on the pro-8 side decided that mobilizing Evangelicals was going to help them accomplish this?  The Evangelicals were already in the Yes camp, and now they've been unleashed ... and for what good purpose?   To scare the rest of us with their ProtectMarriage.com spam?  To persuade us with their talk of months of fasting and prayer?  Or to make even more obvious their penchant for getting bamboozled by the flimsiest fearmongering arguments imaginable?

        Sorry, but the way the pro-8 side has kicked this thing off, they've created a real "you can't get there from here" problem for themselves in terms of reaching moderates.  What I can't figure out is how anybody in PR on the pro-8 side keeps their jobs when what they seem to be doing is helping make sure that every voter in California knows that the pro-8 campaign is a GOP-Evangelical joint operation?

        Anyway, I'm getting off track here.  You're welcome to contact me anytime.  Googling "Chino Blanco" will turn up my details.  Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

        •  My pleasure, young Jedi warrior (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chino Blanco

          Chino-

          I'm biting my tongue because the LDS thing is very, very important.

          Your glee at the way the pro-8 campaign is operating is exactly matched by my (former) glee that the anti-8 campaign is targeting the far left. Both campaigns simply do not understand how to win in the Golden State. Therefore, it's a toss-up. Whoever notices that to win you have to, like, convince average voters in Fremont and Gardena (rather than Orange County and Marin County) will win. My prediction is that actually nobody will notice, which for political watchers (as I think we both are) makes it interesting but for people with a stake in the outcome (as you are and I used to be) it is terribly frightening.

          Again, I don't want to give it all away, as much as I like your approach, but there are a few arguments the Prop. 8 campaign has been making here and there about why the initiative is good that are written as if they are trying to convince right-wing Christian ministers. Any neutral undecided voter who hears those arguments will certainly say... "Whoa! If that's what this initiative is all about, forget it!" (Unfortunately for you, the anti-8 campaign has done that from time to time too, but at least a little more artfully.)

          OK, OK, I like you so I'll give you a hint, but I'll say it in Yoda-ese so nobody who only speaks English (or Spanish) can accuse me of helping you:

          Mormons and Evangelicals like each other, they do not. If break the two up you can, Proposition 8 major damage inflict you will.

          OK, dude, seriously I said more than I wanted to. I'm signing off before I hand you the keys to defeating Prop. 8.

          •  Romney and Falwell sittin' in a tree ... (0+ / 0-)

            Or at least hookin' up at Mitt's place to chat.


            Christianity Today's Q&A with Mitt Romney:

            http://www.christianitytoday.com/...

            CT's Q:  How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?

            Romney's A: I don't know that there's been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, "Far be it from me to suggest that we don't have the same values and the same objectives."

            How many Mormons and Evangelicals would be dismayed and disheartened to learn of the top-level meetings and coordination between Falwell and the LDS President?  I don't know.

            I do know plenty of rank-and-file Mormons who don't appreciate the picketing of LDS temples and all the other confrontational garbage that rank-and-file Evangelicals bring to the picture.

  •  Chino (0+ / 0-)

    I have a strategy in mind I can't post on the Web (yet). E-mail me at DavidBenkof@aol.com and we can discuss it.

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