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Mooney says gays are out to get him

August 12, 1999

From staff and wire reports

Maryland Sen. Alex X. Mooney says in a letter that "militant homosexuals" are out to get him and he's asking conservative Republicans for donations of $500 or more to help him defend his Frederick County seat.

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The strongly worded fund-raising letter drew criticism this week from gay and lesbian advocates, as well as from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Senate Republican leader Martin G. Madden of Howard County, who said he would have "encouraged him to write a less inflammatory letter."

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, who helped defeat Gov. Parris Glendening's gay-rights bill this year, said the letter's tone was "relatively normal" for fund-raising.

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"In fund-raising letters, you've got to let them know you're fighting," he said.

In the Aug. 1 letter, which had the state seal on its first page, Mooney said "the militant homosexual lobby is targeting me for defeat." He used the term "militant homosexual" six times in the four-page letter.

"He seems to have an obsession," said David "Kip" Koontz, a Frederick County gay rights activist.

Koontz said Mooney is exaggerating and misrepresenting his opposition.

Constituents from all walks of life participated in a press conference earlier this year to criticize Mooney, 28, for his stand against Glendening's bill, he said.

"He's vulnerable and he's afraid or he wouldn't be lashing out like this," Koontz said.

Miller said the use of official-looking stationery for such a letter "cannot be tolerated." He said he and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. would ask the ethics panel to prohibit such usage.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, a member of the ethics committee, declined to comment Thursday.

"I really can't make a judgment until I've heard all the facts," Munson said.

The letter appears to be printed on state letterhead, but a note at the bottom of the first page notes: "Not printed at government expense."

Del. Sue Hecht, a Democrat who shares Mooney's district, called the letter "outrageous."

Legislators are not supposed to use their offices as fund-raising tools to gain a competitive advantage, she said.

The General Assembly spent a lot of time talking about ethics last session before passing stricter rules for legislators, she said.

Hecht called the letter "shallow" and said it hurts the credibility of the district.

"We are laughed at (in Annapolis) because of this type of thing," she said.

In the letter, Mooney claims the opposite.

"I'm becoming Parris Glendening's most effective adversary in the Senate," he writes.

"He's getting awfully big for his britches," Koontz said.

Cathy Brennan, a board member of the civil rights organization Free State Justice, said Mooney was exploiting gays and lesbians to raise money.

"Sen. Mooney is a one-issue politician who doesn't represent the views of his constituents in Frederick County," she said.

It was not clear how many of the letters were sent and who received them.

Mooney told the letter's recipients his Aug. 31 fund-raising goal is $100,000.

Mooney will be up for re-election in 2002.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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