Cruz and Dewhurst mum on help from gay men

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 1:49 PM

DALLAS - The two Republicans running for U.S. Senate who are in a runoff July 31 have spoken out against gay marriage.

But both David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz' campaigns have benefited from gay men active in politics.

It's become a sensitive issue for them.

Cruz is taking heat for accepting big donations from the gay billionaire who founded PayPal and invested in Facebook, while Dewhurst has relied on a gay political consultant.

Cruz is clear where he stands on gay marriage.

"I strongly support traditional marriage between one man and one woman," he said during his Senate campaign.

But before the primary, Cruz didn't respond directly on Inside Texas Politics to a point made by then-candidate Tom Leppert, who said Cruz accepted big money from a gay donor in a previous campaign.

Leppert, a former mayor of Dallas, charged, "In aborted run for attorney general, they received a quarter-of-a-million dollars from a gay activist who was leading the fight for gay marriage in California."

Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance records show Cruz accepted $251,000 in 2009 from Peter Thiel, a gay California conservative businessman who also backs gay marriage.

And as the Texas Tribune reported, Thiel gave another $5,000 to Cruz' senate campaign and $1 million to the Club for Growth PAC, which promises to pour millions in the runoff for Cruz.

In response, the Cruz campaign said Thiel supports "conservative values" while the Dewhurst camp called it "hypocritical and deceitful."

At the Texas GOP convention in June, Dewhurst told delegates, "I helped protect the sanctity of marriage by passing the Defense of Marriage Act -- one man, one woman."

But the Dewhurst campaign had no response to WFAA regarding his stand against gay marriage and previously hiring prominent New York-based Republican consultant Arthur Finkelstein.

Finkelstein is gay and married his male partner in 2005.

The Texas Tribune data search found Dewhurst paid Finkelstein almost $93,000 in the 2002 campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Candidates like Cruz and Dewhurst, who wrap themselves tightly in opposition to a social issues like gay marriage, find it a bit hard to explain when they turn to influential gays for help.

But they're certainly not alone.

Craig James, who ran against them in the primary and is against gay marriage also hired a consultant -- Arthur Finkelstein.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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