Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds, who is also the author of the excellent book “An Army of Davids” says he was uninvited to speak at the Utah County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner because of his libertarian stance on social issues - specifically his support for gay rights.
He posted a missive on Twitter on Sunday saying he was told he was “too controversial” for the organization, and would not be speaking at the dinner. Others joined in piling on the Utah County GOP for rescinding the invite. He later followed up with a longer blog post.
It’s certainly an interesting story and one that many will quickly grab hold of because it confirms some stereotypes about Utah being intolerant and not friendly towards gays and lesbians. However, if you dig a little deeper, it gets weirder.
I reached out to Utah County GOP chair David Acheson for a comment, and he tells a different tale. According to him, Reynolds was never invited to speak by the Utah County GOP.
“His name came up during a brainstorming session about possible speakers for the dinner, but so did others ranging from Gov. Gary Herbert to Mitt Romney.”
Acheson said the next thing he knew, a supporter of the party who “has no official role” had taken it upon themselves to issue an invitation to speak, and even purchased Reynolds a plane ticket. Acheson then told this person thanks but no thanks, and that’s how Reynolds was “disinvited.”
So, who was this person who arranged for Reynolds to travel to Utah? Enter Utah Tea Party activist and former Gubernatorial candidate David Kirkham into the story.
Kirkham’s sister, Bonnie Morrow, is the vice chair of the Utah County GOP. He says she reached out and asked him to find someone to speak at the dinner. He was able to get hold of Reynolds and convinced him to waive his honorarium. He also purchased a plane ticket for Reynolds’ travel to Utah.
Fast forward to this past weekend. Kirkham says there were some within the party who were upset that Reynolds was coming because of his support for gay rights.
“I was told this had to go to the Executive Committee to be approved. Word got back to me over the weekend that they didn’t want Mr. Reynolds here because he was ‘pro gay’ and that was too controversial for them.”
Acheson disputes that. “We haven’t decided who our speaker for the Lincoln Day dinner is going to be. Reynolds is still on our list of four or five people we are considering for the event.”
“If that’s the case, what the hell did I invite him for, and why did I disinvite him?” says Kirkham.
This whole brouhaha speaks to a larger issue for Kirkham.
“I am extremely disappointed the party would exclude people who advocates fiscal policies that would put the country back on track. Don’t they understand we just lost an election because a large number of people were excluded by our party? It’s utterly appalling to me.”
Acheson lays the blame on simple miscommunication.
“I think’s it’s a cautionary tale for legitimate journalists that they need to check their facts. That’s the story here. You’ve got folks that should do better at confirming before they speak.”
Indeed. Such are the perils of getting information in the information age.