A former Herman Cain staffer alleged in sworn testimony that the campaign tried to hide the work of the openly gay treasurer of his political action committee (PAC) because his sexual orientation made supporters uncomfortable.

Kevin Hall, Cain's former Iowa straw poll coordinator, made the allegation in a letter applying for unemployment benefits and subsequent sworn testimony obtained by The Associated Press.


Hall says the Cain campaign told staffers to tell donors and supporters that Scott Toomey, a former Cain adviser and treasurer of his PAC, was no longer involved the Godfather Pizza magnate's campaign. But Toomey continued to work closely with the campaign as an outside consultant, allowing Cain staff to say that Toomey had left the campaign — and removing any mention of Toomey in Federal Election Commission filings — while, for all intents and purposes, he maintained the same role.

"A conservative candidate, Mr. Cain is on the record as stating that he believes homosexuality is a sin and a choice. And they know that, if his top adviser, his highly paid adviser, is openly gay, that it would cast a negative light on Mr. Cain and would cost him in his efforts to become president," Hall testified. "Basically the campaign was trying to cover up the fact that Mr. Toomey was still involved. They asked … me to help them cover up that fact."

Toomey became a hot-button issue for the campaign in the weeks after Cain said, in response to a question by an Iowa voter, that he wouldn't object to appointing gay staff members to work in the White House, as long as they were qualified. Conservative journalists used these comments to point out Toomey's role as treasurer, and quickly pounced on a 2008 report that Toomey had been removed as treasurer of a Madison, Wis., gay-pride parade after financial discrepancies were discovered.

Hall argued that in asking him to help obscure Toomey's involvement in the campaign, the Cain campaign was threatening his credibility — and, subsequently, his career as a political consultant. He said in his testimony that this, along with concern over Cain's efforts in Iowa, forced him to resign from the campaign.

Cain campaign spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael told The Associated Press that Hall was "a disgruntled former staffer" and that his claims should be viewed skeptically through that prism. She also said that Toomey is no longer a Cain staffer or consultant, but that his sexuality was not the reason for his departure.

But a Cain lawyer at Hall's unemployment hearing did not dispute his version of events, and an administrative judge awarded Hall unemployment benifits.

"The presence of the gay person on the campaign was misrepresented to the staff, which caused Mr. Hall and others to inadvertently misrepresent the fact to others," Administrative Law Judge Bonny Hendricksmeyer wrote in his decision. "[Hall's] credibility and his future job prospects would have suffered. It is possible if the situation had been discovered it would have also created a negative impact on [Hall's] job duties. He felt it was possible the candidate would lose credibility and the straw poll results would be very poor."