(CNSNews.com) - Critics are stepping up their calls for Vice President Al Gore to force the cancellation of a planned fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion, and are accusing him of inconsistency in choosing what events he will endorse.
The fundraiser, organized by Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and scheduled for August 15th, the height of the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, has drawn fire from women's groups and Catholics (women, for the connection to Playboy magazine; Catholics, because it falls on a Catholic holy day, the feast of the Assumption).
According to the Washington Post, Gore's campaign chairman, Bill Daley, called Sanchez this week to warn her that she could lose her convention credentials, a speaking slot at the convention, and even her position as general co-chair of the Democratic National Committee if she goes ahead with the party.
Gore, who will not attend the fundraiser and has not endorsed it, may even refuse to support Sanchez' re-election bid this fall, the paper reported. Gore has previously campaigned on behalf of Sanchez.
Yet some conservative critics say that Gore's condemnation of the fundraiser "raises questions of consistency," recalling Gore's support of a pro-homosexual march in Rome earlier this year that collided with the Roman Catholic Jubilee Year celebrations.
"This week Mr. Gore's speeches have been bursting with rhetoric about God, faith, family and moral values; yet only last month Mr. Gore was pandering to the militant homosexual lobby by praising a lesbian and gay pride parade staged in Rome during the Christian Grand Jubilee Year," said Richard Lessner, president of the family group American Renewal.
Gore was the most prominent political official to endorse the World Pride 2000 march held in Rome in early July, saying in a recent letter that the event offered the possibility "to deepen the meaning of fundamental fairness, to make real the promise of self-government, and to build a good and just society on the bedrock principle of equal opportunity for all, special privileges for none."
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, blasted Gore at the time, saying Gore's support for the event was offensive to Catholics.
Donohue has been a vocal critic of the Playboy event, calling on Gore to use his influence to have it cancelled, and has recently called on Gore's vice presidential running mate, Joseph Lieberman to condemn the event as well.
"We need to know whether [Lieberman's] opposition to Hollywood 'sewer' fare . . . translates into opposition to Vice President Al Gore's decision to stand by idly and watch his appointed vice chairwoman of the DNC, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, organize a Democratic fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion," Donohue said Wednesday.
A Democratic strategist said the fundraiser has placed Gore in the difficult position of choosing between a major donor and a prominent special interest bloc, feminists.
"The feminists won't stand for a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion, but [Playboy founder Hugh] Hefner has given quite a bit of money," said the strategist, who asked not to be named. "The last thing [the Gore campaign] needs is for this to blow up in the middle of the convention."
Hefner and his daughter Christie, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, have given the Democratic National Committee more than $8,000, according to recent Federal Election Commission filings.
See Earlier Stories:
Gore Cites His ''Tolerance'' of Homosexuals to Catholic League (5 July 2000)
Turnout Lower Than Expected, But March Organizers 'Satisfied' (10 July 2000)