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Jack Kemp's Purported Homosexuality – 1985-86

Feeding Frenzy Kemp has suffered harm from a rumor that keeps turning up, like the proverbial bad penny. As an aide to then-California governor Ronald Reagan in 1967, Kemp was indirectly and unfairly linked to a "homosexual ring" that existed within the Reagan circle. Kemp's immediate boss was one of the group, and Kemp had had some financial dealings with him that included the purchase of a lodge where, completely unknown to Kemp, gay parties were held. (Kemp had never even visited the lodge.)

These flimsy connections resulted in the rumor that Kemp himself is gay. And Kemp has been forced to fight the recurrent gossip over more than a quarter-century. Repeatedly the rumor has arisen, been debunked, and come alive again after the passage of a few years.

In 1985 and 1986, preparing to run for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, Kemp faced investigations first by one news outfit, then another, then another, each failing to find any substance to the rumor but none providing Kemp with final vindication. Occasionally, as with NBC's "Today" show, a media organization would use the earlier inquiries not as reason to abjure further investigation but as a pretext to pursue the same tired subject.

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© Copyright 1998 Larry J. Sabato

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