The Atlantic

Mar 22, 2011

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Fred Karger to Become First Openly Gay GOP Presidential Candidate

March 23, 2011, 11:11 am ET

Stephanie Mencimer reports:

For link to story, Click Here

Retired California political consultant Fred Karger will be in DC today to file his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission officially declaring his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. It will make him the first openly gay Republican ever to run for president as well as the first GOP candidate to declare officially that he is running for the 2012 race. Karger has already made many swings through Iowa and New Hampshire, laying the groundwork for his campaign in those key primary states. He’s run TV ads and met with dozens of young Republican activists to rally the troops. Today’s FEC filing simply makes his candidacy official. It also, no doubt, will make it harder for Republicans to keep him out of candidate forums and debates during the campaign, which some have been trying to do

While Karger met this week with officials at the RNC, including chairman Reince Priebus, in what he called a warm meeting, other members of the GOP establishment have been so welcoming of his historic candidacy. As we reported earlier this month, RNC members in Iowa and a key organizer with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition have not only threatened to keep Karger out of the race but intentionally shut him out of a March 7 presidential forum in Des Moines organized by Reed’s group. Karger responded by filing a complaint against RNC member and Iowa Faith and Freedom organizer Steve Scheffler as well as his organization for violating federal election laws by discriminating against Karger because he’s gay. Karger’s official candidate status now will only help his complaint.

Still, it’s likely that he faces an uphill battle getting into future debates, even with the friendly reception at the RNC in DC this week.

Read the full story at Mother Jones


Roll Call: RNC Chief of Staff Meets With Karger

Mar 21, 2011

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RNC Brass Meet With Long Shot Karger


By Steve Peoples

Roll Call Staff

March 22, 2011, 5:35pm

For link to story, Click Here.

He may not be taken seriously by many voters in 2012, but long-shot GOP presidential hopeful Fred Karger caught the attention of the Republican National Committee’s top brass Tuesday.

The California-based gay-rights activist, a former top political operative for three Republican presidents, visited Washington this week to become the first to file for the GOP presidential nomination. He plans to turn in his paperwork in person to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday morning.

And although the announcement will be a blip, if anything, on the national political radar, Karger said he received a warm reception during a meeting with RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson.

“He welcomed me and said they would provide any of their facilities — obviously they have to be neutral,” Karger said, adding that his Washington-based communications director was invited to attend presidential-related RNC meetings in the future as well.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his vice chairman joined the meeting soon after it began.

“In comes Reince to shake my hand,” Karger said. “We had a great meeting. I gave him one of my T-shirts.

“They rolled out the red carpet,” he continued. “I’ve been getting a lot of resistance from the establishment, particularly in Iowa. … So to have the chairman, vice chairman and chief of staff welcome me with open arms was very gratifying.”

Karger, 61, who publicly acknowledged being gay just two years ago, served as a senior campaign consultant with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.


Supplemental Letter to FEC Complaint Against Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and Steve Scheffler

Mar 14, 2011

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March 14, 2011

Office of General Counsel

Federal Election Commission

999 E Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20463

Re:  MUR 6459

I am in receipt of your letter of March 7, 2011 regarding my complaint (MUR 6459) against the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s (IFFC) Presidential Forum.  Now that the IFFC Forum is over, I would like to submit supplemental evidence to my original complaint that further proves that the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition was not acting in accordance with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

The five potential candidates who attended the IFFC March 7, 2011 Forum were not chosen using “pre-established objective criteria,” the event did not meet the broad FEC definition for a debate and the non-profit hosting organization clearly supported certain potential candidates for Federal Office above others.

Large Media and Public Turnout

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition held its Presidential Forum on March 7, 2011.  An audience of between 1,000 – 2,000 were reported to have attended, plus “150 state, national and international media representatives covered the event.” (Attachment 1)   The format was not a true debate, but the format was separate speeches where “each of five candidates had 10 minutes to make an impression on an eager audience.”  (Attachment 2)

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition constantly referred to the participants as “candidates.” It stated on its own website, “Don’t miss the most exciting political event ever held in Iowa’s presidential caucus history!” (Attachment 3)  Its Press Release continues, “This collection of speakers marks the first event of its kind in the 2012 race.” (Attachment 3)  “There will be candidate and issue-oriented literature tables for you to browse.  There will be opportunities for you to interact with the candidates.” (Attachment 3)

Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa opened the evening by telling the audience: “This is the first significant event of the caucus season,” He referred to those attending as “valuable” potential supporters.” (Attachment 4)  In his speech, Gov. Branstad stated, “I want you to know, these people of Faith & Freedom here tonight are people who show up at caucuses.” (Attachment 2)

Steve Scheffler, President of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, reiterated that point in his speech, “This is the start of the 2012 presidential caucus process,”  (Attachment 4).  Ralph Reed, National Chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, warmed up the audience with: “Are you ready to begin the process of choosing Barack Obama’s successor here in Iowa?” (Attachment 5)

Attendees used this opportunity to evaluate the “candidates.”  “I thought he (Herman Cain) was a very charismatic, dynamic gentleman,” said Kay Quirk, a Republican who drove three hours down from Storm Lake, in northwest Iowa.  Quirk said she had “signed up for Cain’s emails and would consider caucusing for him.” (Attachment 4)

Attacking Other Potential Candidates

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition did not act as an unbiased staging organization of an educational forum, but allowed speakers and even Ralph Reed to attack other potential candidates. “One potential candidate who might not have done a fledgling candidacy any good at this event was Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. His call last month for a truce on social issues was roundly mocked by speakers (Rick) Santorum and Ralph Reed, national chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.” (Attachment 2)  Along with mocking Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mr. Reed’s opening call to choose Barack Obama’s successor violates the neutrality guidelines of the FEC: “Nonprofit organizations… which do not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or political parties may stage candidate debates” (Attachment 13).

News Coverage

Press reports generally referred to the IFFC Forum as the kick-off of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary season:

The Washington Post: “The 2012 Republican Presidential race for conservative Christian hearts and minds and votes got off to an unbelievable start yesterday.” (Attachment 6)

Real Clear Politics:  “The 2012 presidential nominating season officially began last night as five potential Republican contenders appeared at a forum outside Des Moines hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.” (Attachment 7)

Salon:  “The 2012 Iowa caucus campaign kicked off in a church on Monday night” (Attachment 8)

CBS News: “Organizers cast as the kickoff to the nominating contest in the key first-in-the-nation voting state.”  (Attachment 9)

The Des Moines Register:  “It was the first group appearance of the developing campaign for the Iowa caucuses and an opportunity for a first impression with an active and loyal segment of the Republican caucus electorate.” (Attachment 1)

Politico: “The state’s first big event of the presidential campaign season, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition forum” (Attachment 16)

NPR: “The 2012 Republican primary kicked off in earnest. The occasion was an Iowa forum sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition” (Attachment 17)

My Complaint Received Widespread Coverage

News of my complaint received extensive coverage in Iowa and throughout the country, including: Associated Press, Chicago Tribune,  Des Moines Register, Sioux City Journal, CBS News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, the Daily Caller, The Atlantic, WHO-TV, KCCI-TV, WHO Talk Radio, KGAN-TV Cedar Rapids and dozens of other television, radio, newspapers, magazines and blogs which covered my initial complaint against the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, Steve Scheffler and his Iowa Christian Alliance.  (Attachment 14).

Objective vs. Subjective Criteria

After my complaint was filed (MUR 6459), Steve Scheffler stated “Potential candidates were invited based on an objective criteria of viability, fundraising ability, and prior electoral success.” (Attachment 10)  This is vastly different than the reason Mr. Scheffler gave reporters before the complaint was filed on why I was not invited to participate.  Originally Mr. Scheffler said: “Karger’s focus on gay rights makes him a marginal candidate… He’s got one issue and in my opinion that does not make him a serious or legitimate candidate” (Attachment 15).

Mr. Scheffler later claimed he used viability as a measure, which was purely subjective on his part, without some quantitative measure.  Since no one has engaged in fundraising for a Presidential race, he could not have used that.  He could not have used elective history as he claimed, because not everyone invited had one.  So, what were those “objective” criteria and how did he apply them?

Drew Klein, organizational director the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, told the Des Moines Register, “sexual orientation was not a criteria for the invitations. He declined to specify why Karger wasn’t invited.” (Attachment 12)

Mr. Scheffler said, “it’s nonsense to consider an invitation to the group’s event as amounting to an in-kind contribution, because the invitation has no monetary value.” (Attachment 11)  Mr. Scheffler’s assertion that the Presidential Forum had no monetary value is untrue.  With 150 reporters attending and a live broadcast on CSPAN, the in-kind contributions to the five speakers was worth millions of dollars.

Please accept my supplemental complaint to the MUR 6459 file.  It contains further evidence that the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s sponsorship and financing of its March 7, 2011 Presidential Forum constitutes illegal contributions to the potential candidates who spoke.  They were clearly not chosen using “pre-established objective criteria,” the event did not meet the broad FEC definition for a debate and the non-profit hosting organization did support and oppose certain candidates for Federal Office above others.

I hope this helps in furthering my original complaint.  Thank you very much for your prompt attention.


Fred Karger

1278 Glenneyre, #20

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

cc:  Distribution

Attachment 1:

Beaumont, Thomas.  “GOP Presidential Hopefuls Push Moral Code at Iowa Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 8, 2011.

Attachment 2:

Obradovich, Kathie.  “Not in Iowa Tonight?  GOP No-Shows Missed Out.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 7, 2011.

Attachment 3

“Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Annual Spring Kick-Off March 7.”  Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Press Release.  March 6, 2011.

Attachment 4

Haberman, Maggie.  “Iowa Blastoff: 2012 Candidates say Social Issues are Job No. 1.”  Politico.  March 7, 2011.

Attachment 5

Crowley, Michael.  “Religion, the Economy and “Weird and Kinky” Lifestyles at a GOP 2012 Forum in Iowa.”  Time Magazine.   March 8, 2011.

Attachment 6

Berlinerblau, Jacques.  “Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition:  Five Republicans Fight for the Faith(ful) in Iowa.”   March 8, 2011.

Attachment 7

Bevan, Tom.  “Potential 2012 GOP Candidates Convene in Iowa.”  Real Clear Politics.  March 8, 2011.

Attachment 8

Kornacki, Steve.  “The Roots of the GOP’s Crackup.”  Salon.  March 8, 2011.

Attachment 9:

Montopoli, Brian.  “GOP Presidential Contenders Make Case to Iowa Faithful.”  CBS News.  March 8, 2011.

Attachment 10:

Kinkade, Tyler.  “Karger files FEC complaint against conservative Iowa group” The Iowa Independent.  February 24, 2011.

Attachment 11:

Glover, Mike.  “Man Says Iowa Forum Excluded Him Because He’s Gay.”  The Chicago Tribune.  February 25, 2011.,0,4024339.story+chicago+tribune+%22fred+Karger%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a&

Attachment 12

Clayworth, Jason.  “5 Potential GOP Candidates to Converge at Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 5, 2011.

Attachment 13

FEC Section 110.13

Attachment 14

“Candidate exclusion based on ‘bigotry,’”  Eastern Iowa Gorvernment.  February 23, 2011.

“Fred Karger Responds to Exclusion from Candidate Forum.”   February 23, 2011.

Hayworth, Bret.  “Obama DOMA Decision Ensures Gay Marriage as Presidential Campaign Issue.”  Sioux City Journal.  February 23, 2011.

Jones, Michael. “Dear Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition: Why are You Afraid of Fred Karger?”  February 24, 2011.

Beaumont, Tom.  “Karger Complains Officially He was Left Out of Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  February 25, 2011.

“NOT INVITED: California Businessman Fred Karger says He’s Filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission.”  WHO-TV.  February 25th, 2011.,0,5562605.story

“Karger Files Complaint about Caucus Debate Lineup.”  KGAN CBS News.  February 25, 2011.

“Presidential Hopeful Fred Karger Files Complaint with FEC, Says Exclusion from GOP Forum is Because He’s Gay.”  Towleroad.  February 26, 2011.

Glover, Mike.  “Man says Iowa Forum Excluding him Because He’s Gay.”  San Francisco Chronicle.  February 25, 2011.

Glover, Mike. “Man says Iowa Forum Excluding him Because He’s Gay.”  San Jose Mercury News.  February 25, 2011.

Gieseke, Winston.  “Fred Karger Files Complaint with FEC Following Iowa Exclusion.”  The Advocate.  February 26, 2011.

Sullivan, Adam.  “Republican 2012 Contender: ‘I Will Not Be Bullied’ by Iowa Conservative Group.”  Iowa Watch.  February 26, 2011.

Mencimer, Stephanie.  “Gay GOP Presidential Contender Shut Out of First Iowa Debate.”  Mother Jones.  March 1, 2011.

Carey, Amanda.  “Upcoming Iowa Presidential Forum Excludes Gay Republican Candidate.”  The Daily Caller.  March 7, 2011.

Rahn, Will.  “Five Possible Republican Candidates for President to Attend Iowa Forum.”  The Daily Caller.  March 7, 2011.

Attachment 15

“A dozen GOP presidential prospects invited to March 7 Iowa forum.” Tom Beaumont.  The Des Moines Register.  January 4, 2011.

Attachment 16

Haberman, Maggie.  “Iowa’s New Generation Gap.”  Politico.  March 9, 2011.

Attachment 17

Kilgore, Ed.  “New Republic: In Iowa, Did the GOP Prove Worthy?”  NPR.  March 9, 2011.

Des Moines Register

Mar 5, 2011

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5 potential GOP candidates to converge at forum

8:31 PM, Mar. 5, 2011

Written by Jason Clayworth

For link to story, Click Here

A high-profile forum in Waukee on Monday will mark the unofficial start of the run-up to the 2012 Iowa presidential caucuses.

Potential candidates who are absent may stunt their eventual campaigns, some Republican strategists said, while also acknowledging that it’s early, and there’s time to make up ground.

Two of the biggest names who aren’t scheduled to attend: Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

“They are losing out because it reinforces the talking point that they’re not running,” said Chuck Laudner, former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “Every day that somebody comes to the conclusion that Palin or Huckabee or whoever isn’t going to run, then they start lining up behind these other candidates.”

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual spring event will feature five Republicans eyeing a run for president in 2012: former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain; former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Each is to be allowed 10 minutes to speak.

National news coverage is expected at the event at Point of Grace Church, and more than 600 GOP activists have made plans to attend, including Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The coalition is a conservative group headed by Republican National Committee member Steve Scheffler of West Des Moines. It invited about 15 potential candidates, including Palin, the former Alaska governor, and Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. Scheffler has pitched Monday’s event as “the largest gathering of pro-family, values-minded voters in the spring of 2011.”

The group gained attention for one person who was excluded from the invitation list: Fred Karger, a gay man and longtime Republican activist from California who has formed a presidential exploratory committee.

Scheffler and Karger butted heads last year when Scheffler sent an e-mail telling Karger: “I will work overtime to help ensure that your political aspirations are aborted right here in Iowa.”

Karger has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, saying Scheffler is unfairly promoting other candidates. Karger acknowledged that FEC action against caucus debate sponsors is rare. The coalition would face fines or possible loss of its nonprofit status if the FEC were to investigate and rule in Karger’s favor.

Scheffler did not return a phone call Friday, but the coalition’s organizational director, Drew Klein, said sexual orientation was not a criteria for the invitations. He declined to specify why Karger wasn’t invited.

Karger, 61, said he wants to help transform the GOP into a more welcoming and tolerant political group from the inside out. He said he will not attempt to crash Monday’s event.

“It’s very disturbing,” Karger said of Scheffler and the group’s decision. “He’s so blatant and so nasty about his approach, saying I’m a single-issue candidate, which is code for: ‘He’s gay.’ ”

Laudner noted that in previous years, hundreds of people have filed paperwork to run for president, and that someone like Karger, who has slim name recognition, isn’t a viable candidate.

Bob Haus, a Des Moines Republican who managed caucus campaigns for Fred Thompson, Steve Forbes and Phil Gramm, said Karger has been able to gain attention by not being invited. Ultimately, however, the forum is about the most serious candidates, Haus said.

Haus said it’s possible that those who skip the event may hurt their long-term viability as candidates. However, any candidate could quickly regain ground in Iowa with hard work and one-on-one meetings with the party’s core voters, he said.

Nonetheless, he called Monday’s event “a pretty big deal.”

“I think many are on their own time frame, and they’re going to figure out when and if they want to get in according to their own schedule,” Haus said.


Daily Caller

Mar 4, 2011

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Upcoming Iowa presidential forum excludes Gay Republican candidate

by Amanda Carey, 3/5/11

For link to story, Click Here

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition (IFFC) plans to host a presidential forum on Monday, March 7. As presidential forums go, this one is considered a big deal. It’s the first time prospective 2012 Republican candidates will appear together and it takes place in the great state of Iowa – home to the Iowa caucus.So far, Rick Santorum, Buddy Roemer, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich have signed on to attend. Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, John Thune, Gary Johnson and John Bolton were all also invited.

The forum isn’t a debate. Rather, it’s a meet-and-greet, where potential candidates will give a 10-minute pitch to the nation’s first voters.

Steve Scheffler, president of the Coalition, recently commented on the event, saying the 2012 election has the “most wide-open field in 50 years.” And according to a December 2010 Wall Street Journal story, Scheffler said invitations to the forum had been sent to “anyone who has expressed the slightest interest in the 2012 Republican nomination.”

But one potential candidate is being kept out of the forum.

Fred Karger, the openly gay Republican from California who was among the first to launch a presidential exploratory committee and run in ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, has been barred from participating in the event.

The reason? According to Karger, it’s because he is gay.

“There is no specific political criteria used like other sponsors of debates and forums use,” said Karger in a statement. “[…] By excluding one possible candidate, he [Scheffler] is in fact making an ‘in-kind’ contribution to all those who are participating.”

According to Karger, Scheffler also sent him a ‘disturbing” email last May, in which he wrote, “[you and the radical homosexual community want to harass supporters of REAL marriage. I am the Republican National Committeeman for Iowa … I will work overtime to help ensure that your political aspirations are aborted right here in Iowa.”

As a response, Karger filed an official complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) just last week, arguing that Scheffler was violating campaign finance laws. He even launched a website,, where supporters can sign a petition supporting Karger’s participation in the forum.

When contacted by The Daily Caller, Karger said “No, I’m not going to go if I’m not invited,” but he wasn’t going to give up on getting an invitation.

He even has back-up plane reservations to Iowa Sunday night. Just in case.

When asked by TheDC, why Karger was being excluded from the forum, Scheffler simply said, “Look at our quote on the Iowa Independent.”

Presumably, Scheffler meant this quote that was in the Independent on Feb. 24: “Potential candidates were invited based on an objective criteria of viability, fundraising ability, and prior electoral success with advice from legal counsel. We are in full compliance with federal campaign regulations governing such events.”

Karger told TheDC the FEC did acknowledge receiving the complaint, and the agency promised to issue “some kind of statement” within days.

So far, none of the other participants in Monday’s forum have expressed support for his efforts, said Karger, though Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was also excluded from the event four years ago.