Steve G.

Washington Blade Covers Kent Snyder’s Death

In Politics on July 16, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Some interesting tidbits from the Blade’s coverage:

Gay staffers from the Paul campaign, some speaking on condition that they not be identified, said they learned about Snyder’s unpaid medical bills from a web site created by his friends that calls on Paul supporters to contribute to a special fund to help Snyder’s family pay the bills, which come mostly from a two-month hospitalization. So far, the site (kentsnyder.com) has raised about $32,000.

It’s a bit sad that gay staffers feel like they cannot be openly gay in the Ron Paul campaign.

“I can’t believe he didn’t have health insurance,” said one political activist who read about Snyder’s unpaid medical bills in a story published last month in the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t believe that Ron Paul didn’t give him health insurance,” said the activist, who asked not to be identified.

Over $35 million raised, but no health insurance for key staff?!?

Craig Max, a D.C. gay Republican activist who sought to become a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican National Convention, said news of Snyder’s death and his lack of health insurance has triggered a behind-the-scenes debate among Paul supporters and libertarian activists over whether or not the Paul campaign should have provided health insurance to its staff.

The Journal story did not identify Snyder as gay; a Washington Post obituary reported Snyder died of viral pneumonia but did not mention his sexual orientation.

At least three gay Paul supporters said it was well known among Paul campaign insiders that Snyder was gay. Although Snyder shunned the public spotlight, activists and political operatives working on the campaigns of rival GOP presidential candidates, including officials with the McCain campaign, recognized Snyder’s efforts in building a major campaign operation for Paul, Paul’s gay supporters said.

Imagine if Synder had stepped out of the closet to challenge his boss on some of the issues I’ve criticized Paul on — it would have made a big difference.

Overall, this story is a compound tragedy. Snyder helped build a doubtlessly successful fundraising and publicity campaign, but was ultimately forced into the closet by the politics of the Republican Party, and ended up dead due to a lack of health insurance.

Whether it was the campaign’s responsibility to provide insurance for full time employees is up for debate, and I don’t know what the answer is to that question. I do know that America is poorer for Snyder’s death — and poorer for Beltway Republicans’ habit of forcing yet another brilliant gay man into the closet.

  1. It’s a bit sad that gay staffers feel like they cannot be openly gay in the Ron Paul campaign.

    That’s not the way I read what you quoted. They may have wanted anonymity *from the press* for reasons other than being gay staffers. After all, their comments could certainly be considered critical of the campaign. Actually, I’m not entirely sure why they are reported as ‘gay staffers’, as homosexuality doesn’t seem to be the issue here as far as I can tell.

    Imagine if Synder had stepped out of the closet…

    It’s not clear to me that he was *in* the closet. Surely there’s a continuum of openness between hiding your sexual orientation and making it into a political issue that includes not discussing it but not hiding it.

    …ended up dead due to a lack of health insurance…

    That’s a huge leap. That assumes his care was different than it would have been with insurance, which is by no means clear given the bills he accumulated. It also assumes that more resources could have saved him.

    …Beltway Republicans’ habit of forcing yet another brilliant gay man into the closet.

    Making Snyder into a victim using dubious logic and insufficient facts is hardly a way to celebrate his life or mourn his death. Suggesting that he was ‘forced’ to behave a certain way on very slender evidence denies the possibility that he chose to live a private life and to take a job without insurance and to not make his sexual orientation a political issue.

    Sadly, people make better political footballs after they are dead😦

  2. Good Susan: Brian has such an ax to grind with Paul. Perhaps he is jealous. The fact that Kent was single at a relative mature age, does not necessarily mean he was gay. I would not know, as I did not know him, but it could also be that some assumed it, perhaps based on the fact that he is a quite, kind, soft-hearted thoughtful person. I am also very much like this, but I am most definitely not gay.

    Brian has a very aggressive mode of attacking Paul, it is called a psychological obsession.

  3. I’m with Susan here. There is no reason to infer that Snyder had no insurance as his medical bills could have been co-insurance/deductibles and other patient portion balances. No reason to wonder about his sex life either- not any one’s business.

    As to why the campaign didn’t have health insurance for the paid staff, I can’t say for certain. I do, however, have a good answer as to why I wouldn’t provide paid insurance for my staffers if I were Ron Paul- it wouldn’t be appropriate for the temporary nature of political employment. It would be expensive and I have a strong aversion to linking employment and health care coverage.

  4. One of the more interesting situations I encounter is when straight women in rural North Carolina deign to lecture me on gay life in Washington DC.😉

    Snyder’s life follows the basic closeted Washington model — an observation supported by a number of gay men from a number of parties within the DC community.

    It’s also telling that the Blade couldn’t uncover a single paid gay staffer who didn’t demand anonymity. That’s called “living in the closet.”

    Brian has such an ax to grind with Paul. Perhaps he is jealous. The fact that Kent was single at a relative mature age, does not necessarily mean he was gay.

    This is one of the funnier comments I’ve read in this forum. Ever. Thanks for the laugh, Stefan!

  5. One of the more interesting situations I encounter is when straight women in rural North Carolina deign to lecture me on gay life in Washington DC

    (1) Raleigh is hardly ‘rural’.

    (2) I wasn’t talking about ‘gay life in DC’. I was talking about making assumptions.

    (3) You _know_ you just love it.

    Snyder’s life follows the basic closeted Washington model — an observation supported by a number of gay men from a number of parties within the DC community.

    The point is that Snyder made choices – presumably choices he was proud of. Now, after he can’t defend those choices, you’ve thrown him into the role of ‘victim’, of having been ‘forced’ to remain closeted.

    It’s also telling that the Blade couldn’t uncover a single paid gay staffer who didn’t demand anonymity.

    That’s certainly not how I read this line:

    “Gay staffers from the Paul campaign, some speaking on condition that they not be identified,…”

    How does *some* become *all*?

    PS to Stefan: Clam up. Even when you agree with me, I find it irritating. In fact, it irritates me _that_ you happen to (think you) agree with me this once.

  6. I am not portraying him solely as a victim — I am just pointing out the tragedy of his circumstances.

    I know it’s difficult for some to believe, but there are entire careers that remain shut off to out gay folks, and their contributions to the success of politicians in Washington is profoundly undervalued in both monopoly parties. I intended to point out that tragedy.

    How does *some* become *all*?

    Well I am pretty plugged in to both the political community in DC and the gay community in DC. And I’m not aware of a single openly gay paid staffer in his campaign. If I had, I’d have given the guy or gal a call and asked them why his campaign kept ignoring Outright’s survey on the issues for months after his surrogates demanded that we allow him to participate in it.

    Raleigh is hardly ‘rural’

    Meh, it’s not urban either. Suburban.😉

  7. Health Insurance is part of the PROBLEM and the current insurance situation is part of the reason a lot of people support socialized healthcare or are resigned to it as a “solution.”

    In a perfect world I think NO ONE would have health insurance, at least not employer provided and no more than high deductible catastrophic. people have come to expect/demand that being employed should entitle them to “free” “healthcare” that covers routine doctor visits with $0 or low copays, emergency room visits for having a hangnail, and so on.

    If this weren’t the norm, then it wouldn’t be so expensive to be treated and people could insure against major illnesses more economically and negotiate prices better.

    I think staffers were paid well enough to obtain their own insurance coverage, except in some cases ( existing conditions) and/or had the ability to seek other employment that did.

    Then of course, the fact that a lot of true insurance has coinsurance, lifetime maximums,etc. It’s not hard to burn through a high 6 figures or even 7 figures with major illness that requires hospitalization.

    There is no proof that someone died because of lack of employer provided health insurance. Perhaps it contributed to dying with debts ( as an aside did he he have surviving dependents that are liable for his medical bills? If not I wouldnt worry so much about paying them after he is dead.).

    I believe he was compensated well by the campaign. Shouldnt that be payment enough?

    And perhaps libertarians should be more concerned with free market reforms than telling private employers what benefits they should be required to pay their employees.

  8. perhaps libertarians should be more concerned with free market reforms than telling private employers what benefits they should be required to pay their employees.

    I can comment on the immoral, yet legal, treatment of employees by an employer without demanding the government back up my view.

    Right and wrong aren’t a legal thing, and Libertarians who don’t stand up for the legally mistreated or poorly treated tend to do us no favors in the court of public opinion.

    In general, if an employer can afford insurance and good compensation for his/her employees, yet doesn’t provide it, that employer is certainly subject to criticism of his/her values — even if that activity is legal and the critic opposes government efforts to impose that morality.

    I believe he was compensated well by the campaign. Shouldnt that be payment enough?

    No, because I don’t believe that a belief about compensation is a basis.

    Also, libertarians constantly promise everyday people that we believe in the power of government and charity to take over the functions run by government today. If we genuinely believe in that, we’ll do what it takes to make sure that charities and private organizations provide benefits to all those in need.

    When a “libertarian” campaign raises $40 million to promote libertarian self-interest, yet cannot raise a comparatively piddling $400K, it tells voters that “we’re just kidding” about that whole charities-will-provide thing.

    If we don’t live our own values, we cannot expect non-libertarian voters to buy into them.

  9. As for the “gay” aspect, I agree somewhat that it would be better if gay staffers felt free to be more “open.”

    The problem with this whole thing is it is a double pronged accusation- That Paul didn’t care about his staffers because he didn’t provide the common socialist health care benefits, and that they were gay. Therefore Paul especially wanted his gay staffers to be uninsured and die. At least thats the implication.

    And it’s fucking nutty and nothing libertarian about it.

  10. Therefore Paul especially wanted his gay staffers to be uninsured and die. At least thats the implication.

    Huh?

    it’s fucking nutty and nothing libertarian about it

    It’s nutty, but I think the nuttiness is in your interpretation rather than in my statements on the issue!😉

  11. Well my “belief” about his compensation was based on public records. I do not have them in front of me, but Paul staffers were well paid.

    Perhaps Ron paul believes in compensating people based on their actual value as a full salary so that they can spend their money as they see fit rather than building in government preferred benefits. maybe not. that was my only point. then you have the short term nature of the situation.

  12. 1. it was implied that Ron paul’s gay staffers had no choice but remain closeted.
    2. Ron paul’s staffers ( with a special emphasis on the gay ones) had no health insurance- and one died because he did not have employer provided health insurance.

  13. Libertarians aren’t going to score points by telling voters whose relatives die of diseases and leave behind huge medical debts that:

    1) The deceased indebted individual was “paid his full value” (and inferring that he deserved to die and be left destitute in the process);

    2) That the “free market will provide” and “charities will help the poor,” all while having a high profile staffer in a supposedly “libertarian” campaign die destitute with this debt left to his family and piddling private sector remedies versus the money raised for the campaign itself.

  14. it was implied that Ron paul’s gay staffers had no choice but remain closeted

    Well I’m not implying that. I’m out-and-out asserting it.

    Ron paul’s staffers ( with a special emphasis on the gay ones) had no health insurance- and one died because he did not have employer provided health insurance

    Not a special emphasis on the gay ones — the gay one is the only one who died.

    I was pointing out that many libertarians who supported the Paul campaign for the “well-being” of others were facilitating two problems:

    1) The Washington closet (and its toxic effects);

    2) A piddling charitable response to Snyder’s health problem, versus the actual money sent to the Paul campaign.

    As I’ve pointed out repeatedly now, we cannot confidently predict that the market will provide for the poor through charity and private initiative when “one of our own” (by some definitions) died destitute without significant charitable support from those who were able to pay a guy almost $40 million for political activity.

  15. You know what, I should’ve RTFA. I think the Blade article shows the full story. Many of my comments were offbase and I was responding to selected quotes.

    I understand what you are saying. I have been critical of Paul for several reasons. IMHO there are numerous reasons campaign donors are slow to donate to Snyder’s bills. A large part of it just being that people are burnt out on the campaign, gave all they could early, have nothing left to give, and stopped paying attention after the campaign died. Many probably don’t know Snyder died and few know his orientation ( or think it matters).

  16. As a practical matter, I don’t see how Snyder’s survivors are liable for his medical bills anyway. Sure, it’s not best to leave unpaid bills and “stiff” the medical providers. However, the man is dead. His mother nor anyone else owe his debts. As is often the case he apparently did receive medical treatment without insurance- he just ended up owing a lot of money. Of course I don’t know if there was some procedure that could have saved his life but was too expensive ( and in many cases they are too expensive even with insurance).

    The only current concern that made sense to me was his mother may lose her home because it was his property.

    If that is the case, people should be raising money to donate to his mother or other loved ones ( was he in a relationship? Did he/they have children?) NOT for his medical bills. Perhaps paying his bills while he was alive could’ve prolonged his life but what good does it do now.

  17. Even if one is a critic of Paul’s campaign (I certainly was), it’s hard to deny that Snyder was an incredible manager and facilitated a great deal of the campaign’s success.

    But he’s died destitute, early and without full recognition for his key role in that campaign.

    I find that really, really tragic. It touched me personally because Snyder’s story is so damned common, and the reaction to his circumstances — especially the dismissive stuff about his value as a human being that we saw earlier in the thread — is a story that’s told over and over.

    It also touched on my commitment to seeing us live our values. Too few of us bring to life the charity society we desire and claim we believe in, and I think it’s a high profile situation here.

    I’d certainly received quite a bit of mail about Snyder’s family plight, and hadn’t even been a supporter of Paul’s. I am sure many, many Paul supporters received similar e-mails, but they’re not opening their wallets to the same degree that they did for a campaign they viewed as promoting their self-interest.

    While that’s certainly legal, it doesn’t reflect well on the oft-cited cliche from the Republicrats that we’re “selfish.”

  18. specially the dismissive stuff about his value as a human being that we saw earlier in the thread

    What, specifically?

  19. Stefan’s comment.

  20. I’m an independent contractor for the LP Texas and legitimately work as an independent contractor per the IRS rules: there are many (not that I condone them).

    I chose to get and pay for my own health insurance. My plan is cheap, with comparable benefits.

    I pay self-employment taxes. Ugh. I bet I missed another payment. Will probably be paying interest and penalties again in 2009.

    That’s the arrangement I agreed to.

  21. Alright, it’s time for an apology as I didn’t RTFA before commenting last. I retract the part about coinsurance and it not being known whether insurance was available or not. He obviously didn’t have any sort of comprehensive care contract.

    I maintain that it’s foolish to weave any health plan through employment and as far as his family goes, it’s the ultimate in personal responsibility to have your assets sold to cover your debts after death. The docs have a place to collect and that is through the property he owned. That his mom is living in one of said assets is not something to concern ourselves with except on a charitable basis and charity is best left voluntary.

    For libertarians to cry out for intervention is antithetical to the idea of personal freedom coupled with responsibility. We should take care of business first for ourselves and those close to us and that means making sure that a layoff or temporary job has no place in our health care. That Mr. Snyder didn’t plan differently for his ill health and ultimate demise does nothing to say that he didn’t do exactly what he wanted. It is only his estate that will be targeted for debts, not his mother’s social security check.

    This isn’t heartless; it’s realistic. I keep a MM policy to cover catastrophic events and a very large life policy to cover any debt my husband or kids may be left with in the event of my death. I do work to make sure the family will be left debt free as I do not enter into debt that I can’t pay in 30 days or wouldn’t be covered by the insurance bought. I also (morbidly, I’m sure) give my kids an inventory of sorts so they know that particular purses, jewelry, flatware or crystal are not Goodwill items and can be sold at market prices to settle debts that may have been incurred the month or two prior (depending on the length of illness).

    /southern woman’s training guide

  22. @ Susan
    Hmm, do you find it irritating that I also use logic and can read “between the lines”, e.g. dissect not only the text, but also the “metatext” and can come up with
    the same conclusions as you? Are you afraid of being “associated” with me? Maybe I should refrain form stating my agreements with you, otherwise you may become most irritated! ….wishing you would rather be elated with agreement on an issue…: -)

    @ Brian:
    It is a pleasure. I also have to thank you for the laughs you are providing me for free. It is a good thing you do not “charge me” for the reaction of laughter when I read some of your statements, otherwise I may be broke already🙂

  23. Given that Snyder was likely gay, who would have thunk, had Brian Miller been the source of information about Ron Paul and the “gay” issue, that Paul would even HAVE a gay staffer, no less the KEY staffer on his campaign?

    I think that it is true that Miller has a bug up his a*s about Ron Paul. That bug appears to be from some personal aspect, and not political at all. However, I am sure that if Mr. Miller reads this, he will attempt to refute it, and say that Ron Paul’s positions are homophobic, etc.

  24. Shouldn’t the determination of who gets what employee benefits be a private matter between the employee and employer? How is it any of our business what insurance benefits the employed has? If you don’t like the deal you get, negotiate a better one, or quit.

  25. Maybe someone can shed a bit more light on what I heard yesterday: That it was Kent Snyder himself who chose NOT to give campaign staffers health insurance benefits.

    BTW: his sexual orientation really is none of our business and should not even be a topic of conversation. We are who we are: simple as that. It’s not who we are that counts, it’s what we DO.

  26. Gene, agreed on which way kent leaned.

    Unfoirtunately, too many people in the Prude Patrol focus not on what people do, but who people do.

  27. his sexual orientation really is none of our business and should not even be a topic of conversation

    Who died and made you chief censor?

    Miller has a bug up his a*s about Ron Paul. That bug appears to be from some personal aspect, and not political at all

    Well, I take Ron Paul’s efforts to back DOMA, write and pass the Marriage Protection Act, and restore state sodomy laws personally — even if they represent his politics.

    So sue me.

    Unfortunately, most of my “libertarian” colleagues have been willing to look the other way as Ron Paul has hung the LGBT community out to dry — meaning I’d be lying if I was to go back to the LGBT community and inform them that libertarians are reliable political allies.

    If there are two things the Ron Paul campaign proved, it was that libertarians are as political as anybody else, and that libertarians were just as willing as conservatives and liberals to hurl the queers to the wolves to get the political power they desired.

  28. @ Steve: exactly. Kent was the campaign manager and the major force in persuading Paul to enter the race. He was also active in Paul’s 1988 LP campaign and wrote part of his MA on Paul’s political philosophy, so he was well versed with Paul’s questions in detail.

    In Brian’s world everybody that does not accept gay/lesbian marriage, but allows for say gay/lesbian partnership is still also a homophobic, thus the overall majority of the population in the world is homophobic, in his view.

  29. Oh Brian, why is it that I have read from several gay/lesbians that affirm that Barr is NOT homophobic? Are they wrong and only your small group gay/lesbian lobbyists are right?

  30. Who died and made you chief censor?

    Oh, stop with the drama queen act. Some of us have moved beyond “identity politics” and recognize people for who they are as HUMANS, not labels.

    Like I said, someone’s sexual orientation is none of our business and neither is it the business of The Blade, The Advocate or any other news outlet. Personal business is personal business, not fodder for gossip and innuendo…and certainly not fodder for political posturing.

  31. The comment directly above was mine: Gene Trosper.

    I was accidentally logged in with another account, so I want to make sure that it’s attributed to me. : )

  32. I fixed it for you, Gene. 🙂

  33. Thank ya very much, ENM! : )

  34. Excuse me… but how do you come to the conclusion that gay Ron Paul staffers are not allowed to be openly gay. The excerpt itself says “some” gay supporters did not wish to be identified. That inherently means that others didn’t mind, and so the reasons “some” had for requesting anonymity could not be because they would lose their jobs if they were known to be gay. You have no proof of it, you’re just making things up and it’s very irresponsible of you.

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