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Why We Did It: Gay Hoteliers Open Up About Why They Hosted Ted Cruz



Almost two weeks after they hosted a dinner – which they insist was not a fundraiser – for Ted Cruz, two gay NYC real estate developers open up about why they did it and what happened before, during, and after – including something about a previous naked game of Twister at the “scene of the crime.”


Despite the media calling them prominent businessmen in the gay community, until last month the names Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner would almost certainly draw a “who?” from almost any NYC LGBT person. But today, the former romantic and current business partners who own a gay Hell’s Kitchen hotel they named The OUT NYC, along with several dozen other properties in Manhattan and a reported three-quarters of the land in the very gay-friendly getaway known as the Fire Island Pines, have made a name for themselves, and it’s not a positive one.

The pair hosted virulently anti-gay U.S. Senator and declared Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in their Central Park South home now almost two weeks ago. When word got out – via a tip some say they gave to the New York Times, and because Weiderpass proudly posted photos on his Facebook page – the LGBT community and their allies went ballistic.

So did Ted Cruz’s supporters – even the Log Cabin Republicans, who in great likelihood will support him if he becomes the GOP nominee. The right quickly reminded the embattled Texas Tea Party darling that a 23-year old had died of a drug overdose in that very apartment just months earlier. 

Protests came quickly, first via social media, and a boycott group on Facebook, and Weiderpass and Reisner say, email. Lots and lots of email. Then, over 100 activists waving signs this past Monday in front of their OUT NYC hotel. 

The pair first issued a press release lauding the dinner. Despite the fact that Cruz was in New York that night to hop from one fundraiser to another to another – reportedly five or six – they claimed in their statement this was not a fundraiser; it was a conversation about Israel, ISIS, and other foreign policy interests the couple say they share with the Senator. The self-congratulatory press release, also an attempt to put out the quickly growing firestorm, lauded their accomplishment of getting Cruz to say he would “unconditionally” love his daughter, were she to be gay.

Later, they backtracked, calling the dinner “a terrible mistake.”

In response to his critics, Cruz claimed he defended traditional marriage during the event, while those there said he merely claimed it should be a states’ rights issue. But Cruz also issue a press release, saying that the dinner proved he is a “big tent Republican.”

In a week during which Republican presidential candidates were racing to or from microphones when asked if they would attend a same-sex wedding, giving the “family values” Texas Tea Partier an opportunity to look good was not really a win for the LGBT community, albeit, fortunately, one for Cruz’s offspring. 

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and several other prominent LGBT organizations canceled scheduled events at The OUT NYC, with Broadway Cares referring to Weiderpass and Reisner as “toxic.”

Also attacking Weiderpass and Reisner was U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, who penned an open letter to the LGBT community directed at the NYC real estate magnates. “People, we need to get ourselves together,” the Democratic Representative from Wisconsin implored. He added, “let’s not support those who believe we’ll burn in hell because of who we are and who we love.”

And just yesterday, the LGBT Caucus of the New York City Council issued a statement denouncing Weiderpass and Reisner, calling their hosting of Cruz, and a recent fundraiser for Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who is no friend of the gay community, “the height of irresponsibility.”

“Owning businesses that cater to the LGBT community comes with a heightened level of responsibility. For the proprietors of the OUTnyc and Fire Island Pines, hosting anti-LGBT politicians like Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson in their home – for whatever reason – was the height of irresponsibility. We hope that the events of the last week send a message to businesses that serve our community: you cannot make money from our community and support those who don’t support our basic civil rights.”

So, why did they do it?

In an interview with New York Magazine’s Carl Swanson, published late Friday, the pair reveal why, how the dinner came to be, and what happened that night. 

The interview begins thusly:

So this is where Cruz sat?
Reisner: This is the crime scene. Yellow ribbon. 
Weiderpass: A friend of mine, when he saw the article, said, “Wait a minute, don’t you remember when I came over, it was several years ago, and we had a game of Twister in the same exact spot?” And it was actually a game of naked Twister. 
Reisner: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s not go there.

And Reisner explains how the dinner came to be – as it turns out, through a mutual friend. Apparently, Ted Cruz – who days after dining with “the gays” filed two bills to halt same-sex marriage and to make banning it constitutional – has gay friends. 

So how did this dinner happen? 
Reisner: A friend of mine for 20 years, Kalman Sporn, he’s a political strategist. He actually is doing some advisory — was doing some advisory work for the state of Israel for the Cruz campaign. And I think they’ve since put him on hold. He called just a couple days before and said, “I’m going to be at this event with Senator Cruz at the New York Athletic Club, a fund-raiser, and he’s going to be with his wife. Would you like to invite your [business] partner Sam Domb?” Sam is almost 80 years old, an Orthodox Jew, a New Yorker at heart, been here 50 years, owns a lot of hotels — welfare hotels, regular hotels — very strong supporter of the state of Israel, worked for Giuliani, was his campaign manager, I think, unofficially way back when he first started … He’s our godfather; he taught us the business. He’s even the landlord on the Out.

Weiderpass also talks about serving in the Army, how difficult it was to be gay, or to realize you are gay, and be in the service during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and how he worked with SLDN, an LGBT soldiers’ support and advocacy group to repeal DADT.

He says it was a “natural” for him, “to go up against people” who are against him. And “the opportunity came along to meet somebody who is in the Senate, running for president, is against gay rights … he came to my home for a private dinner, not a fund-raiser. That was absolute — it was not a fund-raiser.”

“There were no checks given,” says Reisner, echoing the insistence. “It was nothing like that.”

And then Weiderpass says he turned the conversation to LGBT rights.

“And so after dinner was over, then I invited the senator’s wife to come sit over here, we had the fireplace going, and then I just sort of eased into it as, I said, you realize that you’re having dinner at a gay household. It was sort of the elephant in the room. And it just came out. And then he says, yes. And then I said to him, I noticed that you only took one phone call the entire night. You know, when you have politicians they’re always on their BlackBerries or sending text messages and stuff. No one took a phone call. He took one; it was for his 7-year-old daughter. So I said that to him and I said, so what would happen if your daughter turned out to be a lesbian? And he said, I would love her just the same.”

And more:

“So now if you have a daughter who’s a lesbian, now the next thing is, now she’s grown up. Where’s she going to get married? Does she have to go shopping around for a state that allows gay marriage? Are you going to go to your own daughter’s wedding? Or are you going to boycott it? Are you going to invite your friends? Are your friends going to be embarrassed to come? How do you reconcile all that? It doesn’t. And that’s what I tried to do in a very polite, respectful way — to create this situation which in your mind is hard to reconcile. And then I asked about, do you have any gay friends? They were so proud to tell us about all their gay friends. So then it’s like, how can you be so anti-gay out there with a platform when you’re bragging about your gay friends? Again, it doesn’t make sense.”

The interview certainly paints a more developed picture of how the dinner-slash-totally-not-a-fundraiser-or-anything-like-that came to be, and what they hoped to accomplish.

But the fact remains that they did this to themselves. The smart thing to do would have been to be transparent and public about the dinner, perhaps include, or at least consult with members of the NYC LGBT community, and not make it seem so self-promotional in the first place.

Are we in an age where people with opposing views can’t even sit together for dinner without the media and each side throwing stones? No. Does making your fortune off a group of oppressed people carry great responsibility to not support those who, as Rep. Pocan said, “believe we’ll burn in hell because of who we are and who we love”?

Hell yes.


Image, top, via Facebook
Hat tip: TJ


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‘Whatever Side Bet on Stupid Won Big’: Steve Schmidt Scorches Marco Rubio for ‘Kernels of Imbecility’ on Balloongate



The Chinese spy balloon traversing the United States last week with its intelligence-gathering systems disabled by the Pentagon until it was shot down over the ocean a few days later on orders of the Commander-in -Chief brought out the worst in Republicans, especially U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who serves as the Vice Chair of the Intelligence Committee, says political strategist and Lincoln Project founder Steve Schmidt.

Rubio toured the Sunday shows yesterday, using the balloon to try to paint President Biden as weak over a balloon that multiple reports say posed no threat to the U.S.

Schmidt attacked Rubio’s “silliness and vapidity,” lamenting that, “a serious matter has been taken and twisted into kernels of imbecility by an American politician who routinely lies, dissembles and accuses his opponents of being enemies, while treating adversaries with delusion and disregard.”

READ MORE: ‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’

“Marco Rubio believes the balloon was a deliberate provocation aimed at showing the world that America is a decaying superpower that will never meet its treaty obligations and defend Taiwan, Japan, Korea or the Philippines. The proof of this is the helplessness of America as the balloon floated overhead. Rubio’s position seems to be rooted in pretending the balloon wasn’t actually shot down — which of course it was,” Schmidt said in his Substack newsletter, pointing to the Florida Senators appearance on ABC News Sunday morning.

Sen. Rubio also went on CNN, claiming that President Biden should have gone in national television to address the American people to talk about the balloon – which posed no threat to the U.S., especially after the Pentagon minimized its surveillance capabilities.

“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t do that, and that is the beginning of dereliction of duty,” Rubio claimed.

Rubio was part of the GOP attack on President Joe Biden over the balloon, which was not the first balloon to spy on the United States – several did during the Trump years, but that administration either kept it quiet or was unaware, The Washington Post reports.

READ MORE: Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told CBS, ‘I think this entire episode telegraphed weakness to [President] Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese government,'” The Post noted.

On Saturday U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) unleashed a series of rapid-fire tweets, making remrks like, “Was Biden concerned with upsetting his friends and Hunter’s business partners over in China when assessing the Chinese spy balloon?” and, “Almost 48 hours after public discovery, the Chinese spying balloon has been shot down. It makes you wonder, would Biden’s Department of Defense have shot it down if the American people hadn’t found out?”

Observing Rubio had many topics to choose from on Sunday, Schmidt noted he “could have talked about the staggering Chinese naval arms race that has created a fleet with more warships than the US Navy, though with a fleet far less capable. He could have talked about the vulnerability of a US fleet carrier to a precision hypersonic missile, and questioned whether the age of the carrier might be ending, given its enormous capacity for staggering casualties. He could have talked about the Chinese submarine program, or they’re out of control espionage activities in the United States.”

“Rubio chose to do none of those things. Instead, he chose to fearmonger over a balloon.”

Schmidt continued.

“Maybe the ‘decline’ Rubio is talking about is evidenced by Rubio talking. Maybe the ‘decline’ that the Chinese were watching was America’s political and media ‘decline.’ Maybe they wanted to see the stupidity play out second by second like an MRI scanning a body injected with contrast dye. Maybe they wanted to settle a debate between two factions of American observers and predictors who disagreed on how we would respond. One thing is for sure: whatever side bet on stupid, won big.”

“The silliness and vapidity of Marco Rubio and his colleagues were certainly exposed by the balloon. They absolutely demonstrated a lack of capacity to measure up in a real crisis. They also demanded a response that will give the Chinese a chance to reciprocate the favor. That happened in 2001, in the months before 9/11. Like now, the event was regarded as a distraction, but was it?”

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Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries



The powerful Koch network is taking a stand against Donald Trump heading into the 2024 election cycle, and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough examined the historical parallel to the Tea Party insurgency a decade ago.

A memo released by Americans for Prosperity shows the conservative heavyweights will oppose the former president’s GOP primary bid after a lackluster showing by Republicans in the 2022 midterms, and the “Morning Joe” host said that reminded him of the Koch brothers taking on the right-wing Tea Party movement.

“The fact the Koch network, so powerful in the Republican Party, is saying, ‘Hey, we don’t usually get involved in primaries but we’re getting involved now,'” Scarborough said. “It reminds me so much of 2014. I don’t know if you remember 2010, Tea Partiers had a massive time, 2012, more Tea Party type candidates were getting nominated, and Republicans started losing races they should never have lost statewide. In 2014, the Koch network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other sort of mainstream Republican outfits said, ‘Enough.’ They started getting involved in early primaries. I remember an Alabama one being a special election very early on where they said, ‘We are going in and stopping this craziness and madness.’ That’s what they did.”

READ MORE: GOP faces ‘potentially catastrophic problem’ if Trump loses nomination: conservative

“Looks like that’s what the Koch brothers or the Koch network is looking to do now,” Scarborough added. “It’s one thing when politicians say Donald Trump shouldn’t run again. Explain how powerful and how important the Koch donor network is to the Republican Party in deciding who is going to be the next nominee.”

Watch the video below or at this link.


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‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’



A man who says he was hired by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as a congressional staffer, told he had to be listed as a “volunteer” until his paperwork was processed, then subsequently told his job offer had been “rescinded” nine days later despite having worked several days during that time, is now accusing the embattled New York GOP congressman of ethics violations and sexual harassment. He is calling for both a congressional and a police investigation.

In a two-page letter to the House Ethics Committee dated Friday requesting an investigation, Derek Myers alleges Rep. Santos invited him to a karaoke club on his second day of work, then “proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”

He says Santos then told him, “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over” and told him where he lived.

READ MORE: ABC Host Pops Marco Rubio’s Balloon Rant: It ‘Happened Three Times’ Under Trump

Myers is also asking the congressional investigation examine his being told he had to work as an unpaid volunteer while being offered a full-time job, which he says is a violation of House ethics.

He says he has filed a police report.

In his letter (above) which he posted to Twitter, Myers says was interviewed by Santos, offered the job on Monday, January 23, asked by Santos’ chief of staff to come into the office the following day.

“On Wednesday. January 25, I was alone with the Congressman in his personal office going over mail correspondence from constituents and making my recommendations for which letters we should respond,” Myers’ letter reads. “The Congressman earlier in the day had asked me if I had a Grindr profile, which is widely-known as an LGBTQ+ social networking app, more commonly used for sexual intercourse. The Congressman shared with me that he, himself had a profile.”

Myers says Santos called him “buddy” and “insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa.”

READ MORE: Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed

“I proceeded to move forward with the discussion about the mail, but the Congressman stopped me by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee and saying, ‘Hey buddy, we’re going to karaoke tonight. Would you like to go?’ I kindly declined the invitation by telling the Congressman I was not a fan of clubs and bars and that I was not a good singer,” the complaint reads.

“The Congressman proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin. He proceeded to look at me and say, ‘My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over’ and went on to tell me where the Congressman lived. I quickly pushed the Congressman’s hand away and grabbed the mail from the table and proceeded to discuss the topic of constituent correspondence. Shortly thereafter, I left the personal office and returned to my desk.”

He alleges the following Monday, one week after being made the offer of employment, he was asked about his background as a journalist. He says on Wednesday, February 1, “I was informed that my job offer was being rescinded.”

The New York Times reports, “Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.”

“There’s no corroborating evidence whatsoever,” Myers told CNN. “It’s simply going to be his word against mine.”

Santos is currently facing at least three federal investigations, including for allegedly absconding with thousands of dollars raised to save a veteran’s dying service dog, and for campaign finance issues.

Myers was in the news last week after sharing what he says were conversations with Santos he recorded. Talking Points Memo published some of that audio and reported some of Santos’ statements to Myers, including, “Stop going to Colombia for your diluted Botox.”

Santos claimed the recordings “violated the trust that we had” in Myers.

TPM also reported on Myers’ background, which Santos allegedly used to terminate him.

“A local news reporter from Ohio, Myers faced unusual criminal charges last year after he published surreptitiously recorded audio of courtroom testimony that he said he obtained from a source. The criminal case, which is in limbo, sparked a national outcry from press freedom organizations who rushed to his defense,” TPM says.

“It was quite a mesmerizing feeling to be in that proximity to power,” Myers told TPM. “Not only was I working with a sitting congressman, but I would see all these other U.S. senators and congressmen and women who I would only see on the news walking through the basement.”

He also told the news outlet of the “dream that drew Myers to Santos: a potential book or Hollywood project.”

“George Santos is making history,” Myers told TPM. “There’s gonna be a book about it. There’s gonna be a movie about it.”

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