Anti-gay campaign flier targets Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lane Lewis

A flier sent out late last week attacking openly gay Lane Lewis in his race against Houston attorney Keryl Douglas for Harris County Democratic Party chair.

An anti-gay campaign flier calling for change in leadership for the Harris County Democratic Party chair circulated in Houston this weekend and was sent to Instant Tea.

The position is currently held on an interim basis by Lane Lewis, who’s openly gay. The flier compares him to Houston attorney Keryl Douglas as having an unknown occupation, serving as a the former president as of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and being a gay-rights activist, stating that he helped defeat Texas’ sodomy law. The flier also mentions his unsuccessful City Council run in 2009 and his time as precinct chair.

Keryl Douglas

This is the second time during the campaign that Douglas has been linked to an anti-gay attack. In April, an email signed by Ministers for Keryl attacked Lewis’ sexual orientation and stated that including gays in the party would lead to its demise.

Douglas later held a press conference denying that her campaign had ties to the email, despite the email’s trace linking back to her campaign’s email. She said she did know who the minister group was and called the email an attack on her campaign by her opponents that she would have the police investigate.

Lewis, a former social worker and elementary teacher, is now a consultant at Standley Lewis Learning, LLC, according to his Facebook page. He was unanimously elected as interim chair in December.

Lane Lewis

In response to the flier, Lewis sent an email to Instant Tea calling it “unfortunate” and continued his campaign fight with Douglas over her Republican donors.

“It is unfortunate that my opponent and her Republican-funded backers will stoop to this level,” he wrote. “Rather than run a campaign on the issues, she has chosen to run a divisive campaign, and I believe the primary voters in Harris County will make the right decision today. I have worked hard to revitalize the Harris County Democratic Party over my chairmanship and I intend to elect Democrats up and down the ballot this November and beyond.”

Douglas’ campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Harris County voters will decide in Tuesday’s primary which of the two they want to serve as Democratic Party chair.

—  Dallasvoice

Harris County Democratic Party chair candidate denies campaign distributed anti-gay email

Keryl Douglas

Houston lawyer Keryl Douglas responded to allegations Thursday that her campaign emailed an anti-gay letter on Monday.

The letter attacked her opponent for Harris County Democratic Party chair, Lane Lewis, who is the interim chair, and stated that gays in the party would eventually lead to its demise.

At a press conference Thursday, Douglas said that her campaign was not responsible for the emailed letter and questioned the existence of the Rev. Willie J. Howard, who wrote on behalf of the group “Ministers for Keryl.”

“At no time in my campaign to date has there ever existed a group called Ministers for Keryl.  This is a fabricated group just as I strongly assert that the letter is also a fabricated letter,” reads Thursday’s press release from Douglas’ campaign.  “I have absolutely no knowledge of having ever met a Willie J. Howard, let alone a Reverend by that name.  It is my firm belief that Willie J. Howard does not exist.  If he does exist, then I both challenge him to come forward AND I challenge ‘Team Whitmarsh’ and other responders to the letter to produce this Willie J. Howard.”

Douglas said “numerous libelous and slanderous statements have been made associating the letter with me or my campaign” since the email’s distribution. Her campaign has reported it to law enforcement because they could not track how the email was sent or where it originated.

“It cannot ever be truthfully linked to any ministers I know of nor with the only e-mail and website established by me or my campaign,” the statement reads.

Douglas then indirectly alleges Lewis’ campaign is responsible for the email after explaining that any religious leader and her campaign would not benefit from the hateful message. She claims that “the identification of the source of this letter would be identical to who gained the most from it being produced and distributed.”

Spokesman for Lewis’s campaign Michael Kolenc called the statements from Douglas’ campaign as insincere as her congratulatory email in December 2011 when Lewis was named interim party chair.

“Her ‘blame everyone but Keryl’ strategy is as disingenuous as her December statement when she pledged to avoid ‘personal attacks and character assassination,’” Kolenc wrote in an email to Dallas Voice. “Chairman Lewis has said he will not play divisive identity politics. He is working every day to bring people together so we can elect Democrats up and down the ballot in November.”

Douglas also maintained that her campaign and life as an advocate and Democrat has been inclusive of all diversity. She said she helped write a grant to bring Ryan White HIV/AIDS funding to Houston, as well as help create a legal assistance program for those with HIV/AIDS and their families.

“I have never treated the gay community worse nor better because they are homosexual,” the statement said. “I have treated them equally because, like me, they are human.”

Read Douglas’ full statement after the jump.

—  Dallasvoice

Anti-gay email linked to campaign of candidate for Harris County Democratic Party chair

The above screen grab shows the yellow information window that pops up when you 'mouse over' a link at the bottom of an anti-gay email sent by 'Ministers for Keryl Douglas.' Based on this 'metadata,' the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleges the email was in fact sent by Douglas' campaign itself.

On Monday we told you about a letter purportedly written by a Houston minister attacking Lane Lewis, an openly gay candidate for chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. The Rev. Willie J.Howard, writing on behalf of a group called “Ministers for Keryl Douglas” (Douglas is Lewis’ opponent in the primary), suggested in the letter that if “homosexuals” are allowed to “take over,” it could destroy the Democratic Party.

In a press release sent out last night in response to Howard’s letter, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleged that a digital analysis shows the email containing Howard’s letter was in fact sent by Douglas’ campaign itself, and not by “Ministers for Keryl Douglas.”

We contacted Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, to find out how the Caucus determined this. Freeman explained that electronic data, called “metadata,” is attached to every email. When you use an email client — such as iContact or Constant Contact, but in this case “MailChimp” — it attaches its own specific data.

“We examined the metadata on that email that was sent out and compared it to an official email from the Keryl Douglas campaign,” Freeman said. “They were identical. The metadata that was attached was identical, and it says Keryl Douglas campaign.”

Freeman directed us to “mouse over” a link at the bottom of the copy of Howard’s email that was forwarded to us. We confirmed that when you mouse over a link that says “Add us to your address book” at the bottom of the email, what pops up is a web address associated with Douglas’ campaign website. (See screen grab above.)

“You’d be amazed at how stupid people can be about this stuff,” Freeman said.

We left phone and email messages with Douglas’ campaign, which reportedly is denying any involvement. Thus far, no response.

Freeman added that Dallas Voice is the only media outlet that’s covered the anti-gay email. “Probably because it’s the primary,” he said. “It’s a race for the party chair, it’s not for state representative. That’s the only thing I can figure. I would guess that a lot of outlets probably see it as an internal dispute.”

Despite the lack of media attention, Democrats in Harris County have taken notice. Freeman said the email has led to an influx of support and financial contributions for Lewis, and garnered the attention of “well-respected, well-entrenched leaders and public figures in the Democratic Party with loud voices.”

“The party faithful have come out in force against this,” Freeman said. “I think it will significantly diminish the support that Ms. Douglas has in the community, and by community I mean the Democratic community.”

Read the Caucus’ full press release below.

—  John Wright