WASHINGTON — A top donor to President Obama has stepped aside from two boards with the gay rights organization he helped found after being indicted for sexually assaulting an underage boy.
Terry Bean helped found the Human Rights Campaign in 1980 and has donated heavily to President Obama’s election campaigns. In 2008, Bean bundled $50,000 to $100,000 for Obama. And in 2012, Bean bundled at least $500,000 to Obama. Bundlers have given so much money to their candidate of choice that they turn to friends and associates to raise even more money for him or her.
His withdrawal from the Human Rights Campaign board and the HRC Foundation board brings a temporary halt to a 34-year affiliation with the gay lobbying giant. “Mr. Bean has decided to voluntarily take a leave of absence from the HRC board until the matter is resolved,” a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign wrote in an email message.
Bean, 66, was arrested at his home Wednesday for assaulting a 15-year-old boy in a hotel in Eugene, Oregon, last year, according to The Oregonian. Bean’s former domestic partner, Kiah Loy Lawson, 25, was arrested Thursday for participating in the assault. Bean was charged with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor, according to the paper.
In addition, the paper reported that Bean and Lawson filed separate restraining orders earlier this year for making threats, throwing objects at, and hitting one another.
Kristen Winemiller, an attorney for Bean, said her client was innocent of the charges. “Terry Bean is a highly respected community leader who has devoted his life to bettering our community. Over the course of several months in 2013-2014, Terry was the victim of an extortion ring led by several men known to law enforcement. This current arrest is connected to the ongoing investigation of that case in which Mr. Bean has fully cooperated. No allegations against Bean should be taken at face value. We look forward to the opportunity to clear his name,” Winemiller said in a statement that a Portland-based public relations specialist, Alexis Dane, distributed to reporters.
Bean is the president and CEO of Bean Investment Real Estate, according to the company’s website. He inherited the company from his father, and the firm has traded and invested in commercial real estate as well as apartment buildings and condominiums.
In a May 2012 interview, Bean said a failed suicide attempt when he was young spurred his commitment to gay rights. “I’m one of these kids who tried to kill myself when I was young, so I still remember what that feels like, and I do this work because I know kids are out there still killing themselves,” Bean said on Portland, Oregon, radio station KXL.
Lawson’s Facebook page contains pictures of him and Bean huddled together under a picture of George Washington. Also, it has images of him and Bean inside the White House last November, touring the library, Green Room, and East Room.
The Human Rights Campaign is known as an aggressive gay-rights lobbying group. It has criticized Catholic bishops for their support of traditional marriage and opposition to gay marriage. Before the Synod of Bishops on the Family last month, the organization said it was targeting eight bishops as opponents for their “rejection” of homosexual Catholics and gay rights. “Most important is the opportunity to create a precedent for change,” the group said in its pamphlet on the synod.