Republicans in California are in an uproar because the week before the general election the state Republican Party paid $47,000 to the nonprofit Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) of Anaheim, chaired by the infamous Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. The money was used to produce TVC's annual voter guide.
According to IRS regulations, nonprofits are not supposed to endorse candidates for political offices, but many on both the left and the right produce "balanced" guides on issues which they support. They do this by listing hot-button issues and giving the Republican and Democratic candidates' positions.
For instance, the TVC guide listed such concerns as abortion, homosexuality, school prayer, and "scientific" creationism. Usually the Republican candidate is opposed to abortion and gay rights, and supports school prayer and the teaching of "scientific" creationism. The Democratic candidate's position of these issues is generally the opposite. The IRS considers this balanced even though the voter guides are usually aimed at a specific bloc of voters.
Research by Project Tocsin of Sacramento first discovered a $35,000 payment to TVC listed on documents filed with the office of charitable trusts. Further research by Dan Morain of the Los Angeles Times discovered an additional $12,000 which TVC failed to report, but the Republicans did.
Needless to say, both Democrats and many mainstream Republicans are upset by the disclosure. Democrats are saying they are going to file complaints with the IRS and other agencies because they believe that since the voter guides are financed by the Republican Party, they are partisan in nature and therefore violate IRS regulations.
The Democrats' position is strengthened by a remark made by John Peschong, executive director of the California Republican Party, who was reported in The Los Angeles Times as saying, "They were delivering votes. They were making sure that people who support the Republican Party went to the polls — and they do a very good job."
Many mainstream Republicans were upset when they heard about the party giving money to the TVC. One lifelong Republican of over fifty years contacted by Project Tocsin asked to remain anonymous but said, "I can't believe the party gave those bastards money. I am going to rethink my contributions to the party."
Hollywood attorney Thomas Hunter Russell, a member of the gay-oriented Log Cabin Republican Club of Los Angeles, who describes himself as a fifth-generation Republican and chair of the board of the oldest Protestant church in Los Angeles, demanded in a letter to Peschong that the party ask for the money back even if it meant filing a lawsuit against the TVC. Russell further demanded assurances that "no more party funds will be provided to these neo-nuts from the TVC or the misnamed Christian Coalition."
The collusion between the TVC and the Republican Party has particularly upset members of the lesbigay community because of Sheldon's notorious record as a professional gay-basher. Briefly, the highlights of Sheldon's career:
Executive director of the Defend Our Children which sponsored the infamous Proposition 6, the Briggs initiative, which would have banned gay and lesbian schoolteachers in California. It failed overwhelmingly.
Founded the California Educational Institute for Truth and Morality. In 1987 the name was changed to Traditional Values Coalition.
Proposed that everyone who might contract the AIDS virus be sent to "cities of refuge."
Supported a Lyndon LaRouche initiative which would have required registration of AIDS patients.
Asked the attorney general to prepare language for a state constitutional amendment to forbid civil rights protection for gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons. The language was prepared but never submitted to the voters.
The TVC regularly appears at various public hearings at the legislature and the state board of education to oppose sex education and any textbook which might in any way present homosexuality in a favorable light.
The TVC was fined $2000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for trying to hide a $6000 contribution to San Franciscans for Common Sense, a group which attempted to repeal the city's domestic partner law.
Twice this fall Congressional hearings were demanded by Sheldon to consider cutting off federal funds to any school district which might have programs that support gay youth.
Jerry Sloan heads the Sacramento-based Project Tocsin, a group that researches the Religious Right in California.