Weighill campaign says Whitney not on payroll

by Todd A. Heywood

FLINT -

Dale Weighill, an openly gay candidate running for mayor of Flint, said in an interview with BTL this week that conservative activist Tyler Whitney is not an employee of his campaign, and has only volunteered once.

BTL originally covered Whitney, in issue 1523, June 7, when he was working for the Trancredo for President campaign in Washington, D.C.

Weighill said a press release announcing Whitney's position as Weighill's field coordinator, sent out by volunteer staffer Jeremy Washburn, was done without his consent or knowledge. "Jeremy is not a paid staff member," Weighill said."I do all the strategy and I manage the campaign. As with all volunteer situations, he overstepped his bounds."

The concerns raised by the announcement sent out by Washburn had BTL staff on the national Sirrius radio program The Michelangelo Signorile Show on Friday, and Signorile has since written in his blog on the issue. Questions about the validity of Washburn's press release surfaced on late Sunday night when Whitney posted a response to the Conservative Dossier blog posting of the original BTL story.

"This is the real Tyler," he wrote in the post. "They sent out a PR without asking me after I agreed to go door to door for a weekend...apparently they were angry that the homo media wouldnt recognize them so they think 19 year old twinks like me are an effective media strategy (I guess it worked...). Either way I just went door to door a few times and I don' t get paid. It's a silly story but flame on."

Whitney confirmed in an instant message conversation with BTL and in an email that the post was his. He continued in an email to BTL, "I simply volunteered on the campaign a couple of times. I was never officially given the responsibility of "field coordinator" although that title may have been assigned to me informally without my knowledge. However, I did canvass several Flint precincts but I have no formal commitment to the Dale Weighill for Mayor campaign."

He concluded his email stating, "I support Dale in his efforts to become Flint's next mayor but I only have a limited role in his campaign."

Weighill race

The 37-year-old Weighill, who said he is progressive, but fiscally conservative, is one of seven candidates in the primary for mayor of Flint. In recent campaign finance disclosures, he said he was third, with the city's current mayor running second and Weighill's challenger leading the pack in money raised and spent. Weighill said he raised and spent about $34,000 on his campaign.

Dayne Walling, the leader in the primary, raised and spent over $49,000, while Don Williamson the embattled incumbent, raised and spent over $40,000.

Weighill said he entered the campaign because he felt the city was on the wrong track. "We have a Mayor who is in his 70's and a multimillionaire. He is out of touch with the voters and he acts like a king. He's a bully and we need a leader to bring people together to solve problems."

According to Weighill the most serious problems facing Flint are crime and the economy. Flint is now the most violent city in the country and the city's economic development team is flacid. Weighill said he would immediately set out to re-tool the economic team to recruit new businesses and retain current employers.

He said being an out gay mayoral candidate has not played heavily in the current campaign, with no candidates going negative in attack ads in print or other media. Although he did say some had been hitting with a rumor campaign. The current mayor, Williamson, has allegedly told Weighill supporters he is not concerned about Weighill because he is gay, and Williamson believed no gay man could win the mayor's office.

Meanwhile, Dayne Walling, the financial leader in the race, has been telling Flint voters Weighill is a gay Republican from Livonia. Weighill is not a Republican, although he worked for State Senator Laura Toy for about 13 months. Toy is a Republican who was replaced by Senator Glen Anderson.

Weighill, Williamson and Walling will face off with four others on Tuesday in a primary. The two top vote getters will proceed to the general election in November.

Triangle Pride-PAC has endorsed Weighill in the primary.w

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