Monday, August 06, 2012

Victory Fund Omits 
Links to Gay DoD Appointee

It's not the connections per se, but the failure to disclose them that concerns me.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund's Denis Dison on Friday penned an alert about President Obama nominating Eric Fanning, pictured, an out gay man, to be the next Undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force. Dison wrote:

Fanning, who currently serves as Deputy Under Secretary and Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of the Navy, has deep experience both within the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, where he previously worked on the House Armed Services Committee. [...] Fanning is among hundreds of openly LGBT Americans appointed during the Obama administration.  Find out more about out presidential appointees here.

A search of Fanning's FEC file reveals he's donated $4,850 to the Victory Fund since 2003, and there's nothing wrong with that but it should have been disclosed in any alert from the group heralding his nomination.

I asked Dison about the donations, lack of disclosure and if Fanning's nomination was pushed by the Presidential Appointments Project. Dison in an email said:

Eric is a former board member of the Victory Fund, which probably accounts for his giving those years. I believe he left board service sometime in 2007, but I can check to confirm that.On Monday I will ask our appointments team if it has promoted Eric's candidacy. 

One more item that should have been mentioned by the Victory Fund in their initial alert; the fact that Fanning once sat on their board of directors. As promised, Dison got back to me today with more info:

I spoke with the director of our Presidential Appointments Project, who said we were not involved in Eric's appointment this week.  In fact, we only learned about it immediately before it was announced.

I'm pleased the Victory Fund has addressed my disclosure questions, and want to mention the larger context here and that is getting the LGBT community to look beyond this individual Department of Defense appointment.

More voices in our LGBT community used to be raised about America's wars and how the Pentagon's budget eats up so much money, that could be diverted to domestic programs such as affordable housing for LGBT seniors or education costs of our youth. Those critical voices have been drowned out in the past decade as too many gay leaders have isolated the ban on gays in the military as the only defense-related matter we need to address.

As Fanning's nomination moves forward, I would like to know his views on curbing the Pentagon's hunger for larger weapons and budgets, and cutting back the military budget to better serve the basic needs of millions of Americans. His sexual orientation should be only one item of many addressed as he moves up the DoD command ladder.

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