The Most Feared Man on the Hill?
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Soon, a new name will pop up on Mike Rogers's hit list.
Larry Craig wasn't "the first on my list," the gay blogger says. And the Idaho senator, who announced his resignation Saturday, "won't be the last."
Rogers, sitting on a club chair in his Northwest Washington apartment, is basking in the attention. For three years now, he's been a feared one-man machine, "outing," he says, nearly three dozen senior political and congressional staffers, White House aides and, most damagingly, Congress members on his blog. On Capitol Hill, a typical phone call from Rogers -- "Are you gay?" he'd ask -- is "a call from Satan himself," says a former high-ranking congressional staffer whose name is on the list.
Rogers reasons that there's justice behind his tactics -- "odious," "outrageous" and "over-the-line" as they might seem to his detractors.
In Rogers's mind, if you're against gay rights in your public life and you live a secret homosexual life, all bets are off.
In 2004, one of the first public officials he targeted was then-Virginia congressman Ed Schrock because of his voting record on such issues as gays in the military, same-sex marriage and gay adoption. In 2000, for instance, Schrock told the Virginian-Pilot: "You're in the showers with them, you're in the bunk room with them, you're in staterooms with them." Schrock decided not to run for reelection because of the rumors.
In 2005, Rogers blogged about Mark Foley, months before his inappropriate instant-messages to male congressional pages became public and he was forced to resign. The former Florida congressman had a varied record, sometimes voting in favor of gay rights, but at one point voting against adoption by same-sex couples.
And last October, he says, he targeted Craig -- months before an undercover sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men's room, and before the Idaho Statesman started its months-long investigation. Two years earlier, Rogers notes, the three-term senator had voted for the failed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
"Hypocrisy," Rogers sneers, "plain, hate-filled hypocrisy."
In the coming months, he plans to post the names of "a few more" closeted Congress members on his blog, he says, all of them Republicans. There are 33 names on his published list, most of them men, 30 from the GOP. That fact reveals more about the Republicans, he says, than about him. Although a registered Democrat, he says he is bipartisan.
"I write about closeted people whose records are anti-gay," he says. "If you're a closeted Democrat or Republican and you don't bash gays or vote against gay rights to gain political points, I won't out you."
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