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