A newly-elected Republican Congressman is facing criticism after hiring a same-sex “marriage” supporter as his first Chief of Staff.
Congressman-elect Tom Emmer is set to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN, when the 114th Congress convenes in January. Just days after winning the race, however, Emmer picked one of his campaign consultants, outgoing state Rep. David FitzSimmons, as his highest-ranking staffer.
FitzSimmons is one of four Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives to vote for same-sex “marriage” last year.
FitzSimmons is a longtime GOP activist-turned-representative in Minnesota who worked for the Emmer campaign in 2010. He has been Chairman of the Wright County Republican and the 6th Congressional District Republicans, while simultaneously heading the Republican Liberty Caucus in the state. He also spent time on the Executive Committee of the Minnesota GOP.
However, his vote for same-sex “marriage” in Minnesota last year soured his relationship with many Republican voters. Earlier this year, FitzSimmons' marriage vote cost him his chance at re-nomination for state representative, and his girlfriend's involvement with the same-sex “marriage” campaign and an effort to eliminate judicial elections in the state has drawn criticism.
According to Autumn Leva, the Director of Policy and Communications for the Minnesota Family Council, Emmer's decision to pick FitzSimmons as Chief of Staff is concerning.
“I'm not sure that this decision is one that a majority of constituents in the district would agree with,” Leva told LifeSiteNews. “The 6th Congressional District in Minnesota is very conservative, as evidenced by its representation by [prominent marriage supporter] Michele Bachmann for the last eight years.”
“The state has gone through a lot of controversy over this issue recently, and state Rep. FitzSimmons was a major player in passage of same-sex 'marriage,'” continued Leva, “especially because he put forth an amendment that he said would protect religious liberty.”
“However, as was shown when a hunting reserve said that they don't host same-sex 'weddings' but was forced to settle and pay for the same-sex ceremony, FitzSimmons' effort failed.”
Leva noted that “it is also disturbing that Rep.-elect Emmer would bring FitzSimmons on to his staff just months after FitzSimmons was voted out by Emmer's own constituents.” FitzSimmons' district is inside the 6th U.S. Congressional District, and he dropped out of contention for re-election after losing at this year's endorsing convention.
FitzSimmons, who helped Emmer nearly pull off an upset victory in his race for governor in 2010, has also been hit by critics because his girlfriend, Sarah Walker, is on the board of directors for the group that led the fight for same-sex “marriage” in the state.
After his endorsing convention loss, FitzSimmons said that the GOP must support marriage if it wants to win elections. “I don’t understand how a major political party who’s goal it is to get to 50 percent, plus one, can survive by dogmatically attaching itself to an issue that had 19 percent support by people under the age of 30,” he was quoted in a blog post discussing his loss.
“[T]he Republican Party has to decide if it wants to sacrifice everything else Republicans believe in, every other personal liberty issue, every issue on taxes and spending, every issue on life (abortion), to continue fighting gay marriage,” said FitzSimmons, who also said the growing support for marriage redefinition in the GOP shows that “it’s not a successful short-term or long-term strategy for the Republican Party” to hold to the party's platform on marriage.
Emmer has faced criticisms over other major decisions, both on the campaign trail and not. One campaign employee is former Congressman Vin Weber, a lobbyist who left Congress in 1992 after a banking scandal. He also ran an ad using his candidacy to praise a remodeling company that FitzSimmons said had done “a wonderful job” renovating an Emmer for Congress campaign office — in violation of federal law.
Between the campaigns, Emmer worked for the National Popular Vote (NPV), which aims to eliminate the Electoral College and have the popular vote elect presidents. NPV has received support from at least one group supported by liberal billionaire George Soros, according to The Weekly Standard.
In 2010, Emmer ran for office under the Tea Party banner, and stood against same-sex “marriage” while proclaiming support for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage. In his successful run this year, he moderated his tone and overall campaign message, saying that the goals of a Member of the 435-person House are different than a state's highest executive.
Rather than striking the aggressive pose of a Tea Partier, as seen in 2010, Emmer struck a different tone in 2014, asking “what can we do to help?” He was also quoted as saying that “the ultimate goal for me is to make sure Republicans, at least on our side, start to understand you only can govern if you win elections, and you are only going to win elections if you start firing in the same direction.”
“We have a funny way of building circular firing squads and shooting inwards,” said Emmer, whose office did not return multiple requests for comment from LifeSiteNews.
According to former Minnesota marriage activist Winnie Ubike, who is now a Ph.D. student in Political Communications at the University of Maryland, College Park, “this selection of Rep. FitzSimmons is completely counter to what we fought for.”
“The decision to choose FitzSimmons should be concerning for Emmer's supporters — especially since he is replacing Rep. Bachmann, who was a longtime marriage supporter,” said Ubike. “This whole situation indicates a problematic concern for the Republican Party in Minnesota.”