Log Cabin Republican Hit Hard Times

In the 2008 election, 4 percent of the voters identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to a CNN poll, and 27 percent of them voted for John McCain—numbers that seem to indicate a healthy space in politics for the Log Cabin Republicans, the party's most visible gay organization. But as its annual convention in Washington wraps up this week, the LCR is running on fumes: it currently has no full-time employees—its executive-director position has been vacant since January—and this year's convention had to be run by consultants from local chapters. "The Log Cabin Republicans are not in any sort of danger right now," says Charles Moran, head of the Los Angeles LCR chapter, who also brushed off the void at the top. "We're not just going to accept anyone who applies. In fact, we can wait: like the GOP is trying to refashion itself, Log Cabin is looking to do the same."

Some former Log Cabin officials blame the group's current predicament, ironically, on the man who's keeping it financially afloat: Colorado tech tycoon Tim Gill, who has emerged as one of the LCR's leading donors. The problem is, Gill is a Democrat. His involvement with Log Cabin began in 2004, when it made waves by refusing to endorse President Bush for reelection, a decision that former board member Mark Mead says was driven by a $350,000 check from Gill. "[He] was attempting to be bipartisan but was not," says Mead, who left the organization in April 2004 in a downsizing effort. He added that Gill "bought and paid for the non-endorsement" and that the LCR, which has often struggled with fundraising, finds Gill's check-cutting "addictive." A spokesperson for Gill declined to comment.

Gill, 55, is known as one of Colorado's "Four Millionaires" whose fundraising efforts helped Barack Obama win the state in the 2008 race, turning it blue for the first time since 1992. But not everyone blames him for Log Cabin's devolution. "I don't begrudge Tim Gill," says Christopher Barron, who was its political director through 2005 and applied for the executive-director vacancy but was turned down. "The fault lies in the leadership of the group who … took all this money from Gill with strings attached." This month, Barron and another ex–Log Cabin officer launched GOProud. Its target: gay conservatives who aren't interested in waiting around for the Log Cabin to get rebuilt.