Rep. Taylor Accuses APN of Homophobic Conspiracy

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(APN) ATLANTA — Today, State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) publicly accused the Atlanta Progressive News of engaging in a two-year conspiracy, in conjunction with political operatives, to produce homophobic mailers targeting Mr. Taylor as well as Angela Brown, a former candidate for Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education.

Rep. Taylor is currently in a heated Primary Election with State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), as they have both been drawn into the same district this year by the Republican-led legislature.

Yesterday, Georgia Voice magazine reported that Taylor has come forward with a mailer making homophobic attacks against Mr. Taylor.  Taylor claims that the flyer has been found throughout South Atlanta.

Taylor called on the Gardner campaign to denounce the flyer, which she has.

Today, Taylor accused the Atlanta Progressive News of conspiring with political operatives to produce the homophobic flyer.  The News Editor of APN and present writer–who is openly homosexual–denies the allegations and finds them to be astonishing.

Rep. Taylor had a press conference to discuss the flyer this morning, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, and later crashed a press event that State Rep. Pat Gardner had been planning for over a week at Paschal’s restaurant.

At Taylor’s press conference, he noted, “During the School Board race, there was a flyer that came out with these exact same bullet points, sourced by the exact same news source, with the same homophobic undertones.  Then, over the weekend, it’s the same folks who are running that School Board campaign that are now working on Pat Gardner’s, and this flyer has shown up.”

“The same bulletpoints, it’s the same newspaper associations, it’s the same homophobic attacks we saw in the School Board race,” Taylor said.

In the parking lot at Paschal’s, “There are people who have some serious political policy disagreements, they’ll do anything to win,” Taylor told Gardner.

“But why would I get blamed for what they do?” Gardner asked.

“Well, it’s the same stuff that happened in the School Board race,” Taylor said.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Gardner said.

“You advertised… You’re advertising on the, you know, Progressive News.  Matthew Cardinale perpetuates this kind of homophobic stuff, rumors.  And I knew that would end up in the race.  That’s their whole strategy,” Taylor said.

The flyer that Taylor claims to have been distributed in South Atlanta states: “The Real Rashad… The only openly gay male in the Georgia General Assembly [AJC 5/27/11]; Accused of using his position in the Legislature to solicit sexual relationships [AJC, 5/27/11]; Former roommates with Khaatim El [APN, 1/20/11]; Possibly lived with a male lover on Moreland Ave [APN, 6/11/12].”

It is true that the Atlanta Progressive News has written two articles–one in 2011 and one in recent weeks–that have looked at the question of where Taylor has lived for the last several years and whether he has lived in his own District.

The articles have looked at (1) discrepancies involving Taylor’s voter file, (2) discrepancies between his voter file and statements he has made to APN sources regarding where he lives, (3) his consistent use of a PO Box in campaign and qualifying materials, (4) his unusually high number of addresses, and (5) concerns raised by his constituents regarding their inability to determine where he lives.

Taylor, to date, has still not answered questions regarding his residency, failed to respond to two emails from APN, and failed to answer questions from at least one other publication, the Georgia Voice, regarding his residency.

APN had reported in 2011 that Taylor lived with El, which he recently admitted to Georgia Voice, in the context of an APN article regarding concerns that were raised by Atlanta Public Schools parents regarding Taylor’s role in assisting El with his takeover of the APS Board of Education.

APN had reported more recently that Taylor, according to a source, had a lover off of Moreland Avenue, and that he may have lived there with him, in the context of an APN article regarding concerns raised by Taylor’s constituents regarding where he lives and whether he lives in his District.

The other flyer that Taylor was referencing is one that Angela Brown claimed was being mailed to voters regarding her.  The flyer quoted an interview that Brown gave to APN, in which she stated that she would support students who wished to wear gender-bending clothing to school.

Her opponent, current BOE Member Byron Amos, denied putting out the flyer regarding Ms. Brown.

It is important to note that APN interviewed four out of five candidates in that School Board race and asked them numerous questions regarding their positions on various education policies.  One of those questions was indeed regarding school dress codes.

However, the allegation that APN asked the question regarding school dress codes as part of a conspiracy with certain political operatives to produce a homophobic, trans-phobic flyer regarding Angela Brown is absurd.

The further allegation that APN has engaged in a two-year conspiracy to work with certain political operatives to produce two homophobic flyers–one regarding Brown and one regarding Taylor–is so ridiculous that it is breathtaking.

When Taylor accused APN of working with the “same folks who are running that School Board campaign that are now working on Pat Gardner’s,” he was likely referring to Rev. Mitzi Bickers, who worked on the Amos campaign and is now working on the Gardner campaign.

The present writer–prior to a ten minute phone conversation within the last hour–had never met, talked with, or otherwise communicated with Ms. Bickers previously.

Gardner has denied producing the flyer.

However, one possibility is that Brown and Taylor put out both flyers about themselves, in an attempt to generate sympathy from the LGBTQI community and to paint their opponents as homophobic.

The fact that Taylor claims that he currently lives with Brown, and they have been co-political operatives for several years means that they are operating from the same political playbook.  Oftentimes in the “silly season” of politics, things are not what they seem to be.

Given that Atlanta is such an open, tolerant, diverse, and progressive city, it is difficult to believe that anyone with the intention of helping Pat Gardner would put out a homophobic flyer regarding Mr. Taylor, and not realize that the flyer would have an opposite impact.

(END/2012)

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