Saturday, November 12, 2011

Philly paper picks up my item about anti-gay political consultant's phantom clients: Campaign Solutions scrubs their website, PCRM isn't talking

left to right: unknown man, Karl Rove, Chris Margaronis, Anthony Bellotti

Campaign Solutions is a high-powered DC outfit that puts together big money political campaigns for anti-gay rights candidates and anti-gay rights ballot measures.

As I reported last month, although they're not keen on civil rights for gay people, Campaign Solutions staffer Anthony Bellotti claimed to represent these three nonprofits that promote the rights of animals: Animal Protection of New Mexico; the American Anti-Vivisection Society; and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Per my follow-up, the New Mexico group informed me they were never clients of Campaign Solutions.

Now the Anti-Vivisection organization has denied that they were ever a client.

A couple days ago, the Philadelphia Gay News picked up the story, moved the ball forward, and - thank you very much - gave yours truly some ink.

Jen Colletta (source)

From Antigay consulting firm cites, withdraws animal-rights clients by PGN staff reporter Jen Colletta:
A staffer at a consulting firm known nationally for its work on behalf of a number of conservative, often antigay, politicians and initiatives, has purported to have a client list that includes a number of animal-advocacy groups, including one in the Philadelphia area - a connection the animal group denies and that has since been removed from the firm’s website.

Campaign Solutions has worked on campaigns for Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and the Virginia-based organization also helped promote Yes on 8, the successful California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

...Blogger Peter Heimlich wrote about the seeming disconnect between support for animal rights and for restricting LGBT rights on his blog, The Sidebar
.
“On their website, Campaign Solutions proudly claimed to represent organizations dedicated to improving the lives of our four-footed friends, meanwhile cooking up high-profile political campaigns to restrict the civil rights of human beings because they’re gay,” he said.

...“After I reported the story on my blog, client names and other information started vanishing from their website,” Heimlich said. “When I asked company president Becki Donatelli if she or Anthony Bellotti wanted to explain, she politely declined.”

Sue Leary, president of AAVS, told PGN her organization accepted free advice from a contributor, who works for Campaign Solutions, but said her agency is not currently and never was a client of Bellotti’s or Campaign Solutions.

Donatelli did not respond to a request for comment last week from PGN.

Last weekend, however, all mention of the animal-advocacy groups, as well as the antigay agencies, were removed from Bellotti’s profile.
In other words, one of the country's top political consulting shops appears to have falsely claimed that at least two organizations were clients.

Here's a screen shot taken on October 18, the day my first item ran:


Here's a shot of the same page today sans the animal rights clients and his "highly regarded" anti-gay rights campaigns:


Courtesy of ChangeDetection.com, a free online tool that monitors web pages, this shot shows last weekend's alterations:


Hey, wait a minute. What about PCRM, unquestionably the highest-profile of the three animal rights groups? Are they now or have they ever been clients of Campaign Solutions? Does it matter?

Based on this e-mail I received from Pattrice Jones, a writer who advocates for animal rights and for civil rights for gay people, she sure seems to think it's important:
First, let me vouch for both AAVS (with which I have worked concerning genetic engineering of animals) and PCRM (with which I have worked concerning the globalization of unhealthy Western diets), as organizations staffed and managed by persons who are committed to social justice. I assume that they have been disgusted to learn that they have been doing business with a company that also fosters homophobia.
My guess is that both of these organizations would be willing to make a statement condemning homophobia and/or eventually divest themselves from association with that company.
Per the Philly Gay News, guess again:
PCRM did not respond to a request for comment.