The blogger could offer no indisputable proof that Rep. Edward L. Schrock of Virginia ever indulged in or solicited gay sex.
Yet he put the claim on his Web site, and over two weeks the years-old rumor took on a life of its own.
Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.), who was popular in his conservative Tidewater district, had taken positions against gay rights.
(The Virginian Pilot)
Though no one else stepped up to say it was true and Schrock never discussed the report, its posting on the Internet was enough to provoke Schrock's announcement Monday that he was giving up his reelection campaign, proving again how swift and powerful information in the new medium can be.
The claim that the Republican congressman pursued gay trysts had been presented to journalists and political opponents as far back as three years ago and had never found its way into print. But Michael Rogers, the publisher of blogACTIVE.com, which he says aims to expose the hypocrisy of gay politicians who vote against gay rights, ran with it Aug. 19. He posted an audio file in which a man asks "to get together with a guy from time to time to just to play," later suggesting oral sex.
Rogers's blog never offered proof that the voice was Schrock's, but it led Schrock to withdraw from the race 11 days after its posting. Last night, Republicans in Virginia's 2nd District chose Del. Thelma Drake (Norfolk) to replace him on the Nov. 2 ballot. She will face Democrat David B. Ashe, an Iraq war veteran.
"The fact that [Schrock] didn't comment on this for 11 days made me think: Wow, this is really true," said Rogers, 40, a Washington-based fundraiser. "It's the whole no-comment thing."
Tom Gordy, Schrock's chief of staff, refused to discuss the congressman's sexuality.
"I am not going to answer that," he said when asked whether Schrock was gay or bisexual.
Gordy would neither confirm nor deny the allegations on Rogers's Web site but said: "The congressman believes that these allegations would have been a distraction from the real issues. . . . It was obvious that they would have been the center of the campaign."
Schrock, 63, is not granting interviews and was traveling with his son and wife, who were "aware of the situation" and were supportive, Gordy said.
When asked why Schrock decided to step down after two terms even though there appeared to be no airtight evidence linking him to the allegations, Gordy said that "Ed Schrock is a fighter" but that his decision "boiled down to the fact that he wanted to protect his family."
He said that Schrock, a former Navy officer who served in Vietnam, was not pressured by national or local Republicans to step down.
Rogers said he was angered by stands that Schrock had taken on gay-rights issues, including co-sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar same-sex marriages.
He scoffed at any suggestion that the congressman might have been misidentified on the audio.