“I just deleted it,” says an official at a Washington-based social-conservative organization. “It looked like junk e-mail.”
“It” is what has become known as The List, a document naming allegedly gay Republican congressional staffers that has been e-mailed to a number of conservative groups in the last few days. According to a report by David Corn, a writer for the left-wing magazine the Nation, anti-Republican “gay politicos” sent the list to several social-conservative organizations — among them Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Southern Baptist Convention — in hopes of setting off “a civil war within the GOP, to turn the anti-gay social cons against the GOP’s Velvet Mafia.”
As it turned out, at least two organizations apparently deleted the e-mail, either as part of routine file upkeep or because they weren’t interested in its contents. Others didn’t open the attachment — the list was included as a separate file — fearing that it contained a virus. And some opened it up and didn’t see much that was new. “We work on the Hill,” says one conservative activist. “There weren’t a lot of surprises on the list.” So far, the much hoped-for civil war doesn’t seem to be happening.
But the campaign to spread The List is accomplishing something. It is offering clues about who is behind it.
The version of The List sent to at least some of the conservative organizations originated from the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. That is the address of a California-based group, the Health Policy and Research Foundation, an organization devoted mostly to work involving AIDS, that is run by a businessman and former Democratic National Committee staffer named Rick Reidy.
The foundation isn’t a big thing. Its most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service, in 2002, reported that it took in just $24,678.77 in contributions in that year. It spent nearly all of that money — its main activity involved promoting AIDS awareness at Major League Baseball games — and listed just $231.56 in total assets at the end of 2002. It is not clear what the foundation’s finances have been since then.
The filing lists Reidy as president. A personal website, rickreidy.com, describes Reidy as a “business and public affairs adviser based in Los Angeles and Washington.” According to the site, Reidy worked for the Democratic National Committee in the 1980s, and today “counsels corporations, labor unions, and non-profit groups in strategies involving venture capital and government lobbying by drawing upon a wide range of personal and professional relationships.”
Reidy did not respond to phone and e-mail inquiries Monday.
It is not clear if the list that came from the Health Policy and Research Foundation e-mail address is the The List, or if there are perhaps other versions floating around. Sources who have seen the list sent from the foundation say that it contains several more names than the few published on an anti-Republican gay-outing website, blogactive.com. Just where those names came from is not clear.
What seems clearer is that The List, now that it is in the hands of conservative organizations, is not having the effect that its proponents hoped it would. “They have this stereotype of us, the Christian right,” says one conservative activist, “and that stereotype is that we hate homosexuals. But that’s not the case and never has been, and that is why this is falling flat.”
– Byron York, NR’s White House correspondent, is the author of the book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President — and Why They’ll Try Even Harder Next Time.