Romer/Thornberry Relationship Raises New Questions about DNC Fund-Raising

Top Democrats Enjoy Support of Feminists Despite Sexual Allegations

Colorado Governor Roy Romer has admitted to having a 16-year affair with a former aide, B.J. Thornberry, in response to allegations made by Paul M. Rodriguez, managing editor of Insight magazine and in the face of photographic evidence that Rodriguez claimed to have and planned to publish on February 23. Romer denies the relationship was adulterous, claiming to have a close friendship with Thornberry -- emphasizing that relationships can be complex and can involve "grey areas." He further states that his family has known about the relationship and that it will continue.

Romer insisted this relationship would have no effect on the image of the Democratic party, saying "This is about Roy Romer, Governor." An interesting comment from a politician who's stressing that personal relationships do not reside in the public, political domain. Romer then defined marital fidelity as "trust" and "openness" and, "whether or not you use a person for your own ends." Fidelity did not apparently include monogamy.

Thornberry, now assistant to deputy secretary Dwight Robinson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, served as a top aide to Governor Romer during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In March of 1996 Clinton appointed Thornberry executive director of the Democratic National Committee. During the 1996 elections the following November, when Democratic fund-raising issues raised national suspicion, it was Thornberry who took the heat, admitting publically that the DNC stopped doing background checks of donors contributing over $30,000. She was also blamed for the DNC's failure in 1996 to file an FEC pre-election finance report.

In January of 1997, President Clinton appointed Romer chairman of the DNC. Romer then made a public pledge, according to Rodriguez, "that he would get to the bottom of alleged wrongdoing at the DNC involving fund-raising practices that elicited substantial attention and concern about improper and illegal activities." Although Thornberry had taken responsibility for many of these fund-raising practices, she retained her position at the DNC for another year during Romer's tenure.

It is for this reason that the allegations of an affair between Romer and Thornberry cannot be soley dismissed as part of either's "personal life." One might and should wonder why Thornberry, if she was truly responsible for the DNC's questionable fund-raising practices, was allowed to remain at the DNC after Romer came on board. Remember, the fund-raising allegations broke and Thornberry subsequently admitted major mistakes in November of 1996 -- Romer was appointed chairman only two months later, putting him squarely in the wake of the financial allegations. Had Thornberry been responsible, action should and could have been taken in January or February of 1997.

The argument could be made, however, that Thornberry was merely a patsy for the DNC, brought into the executive director's chair to take the blame for fund-raising practices that were bound to come to light. For example, she admitted "full responsibility" for the failure to perform background checks on DNC donors, but that was a policy that began in 1994 -- two years before she joined the DNC.

If Thornberry did have a hand in the fund-raising mistakes at the DNC, her continuation there should be brought into question in light of the allegations regarding her relationship with the DNC chairman. And if Thornberry did not have a hand in the fund-raising mistakes at the DNC, her sacrifice by the Democratic powers that be should be called into question by feminist leaders and groups such as NOW. Will that happen? We at Rightgrrl sincerely doubt that it will.

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