- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A prominent gay rights activist charged last week with sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy is a strong supporter of President Obama who has visited the White House more than a half-dozen times in the past two years, visitor logs show.

Terrence P. Bean, 66, who raised more than a half-million dollars for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, last visited the White House on May 30 when he met with the president, first lady Michelle Obama and political adviser David Simas.

White House visitor logs show that Mr. Bean, co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights group, also has visited the White House on at least six other occasions since June 2012. On one visit in 2013, Mr. Bean brought along Kiah Lawson, described in news reports as his ex-boyfriend, who is also charged with sexually assaulting the juvenile.

Authorities in Oregon charged Mr. Bean and Mr. Lawson last week with two counts of third-degree sodomy and one charge of third-degree sex abuse after his indictment by a Lane County grand jury indictment. Mr. Lawson, 25, was charged with two counts of third-degree sodomy and with third-degree sex abuse.

The White House had no comment on whether the president still considers Mr. Bean an ally. Some observers have credited Mr. Bean for helping to sway Mr. Obama into supporting same-sex marriage two years ago.

“He has the president’s ear,” former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts once said of Mr. Bean.

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Mr. Bean has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since at least 2009, and was appointed to the DNC’s budget and finance committee in August 2013 by Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The Human Rights Campaign said that Mr. Bean has taken a leave of absence from the organization “until his issues are resolved.”

Mr. Bean’s lawyer, Kristen Winemiller, said he was the target of an extortion ring “led by several men known to law enforcement.” She said Mr. Bean is cooperating fully in the investigation in a probe by the Portland police department’s sex crimes unit.

“No allegations against Terry Bean should be taken at face value,” she said in a statement. “We look forward to the opportunity to clear his name.”

Mr. Bean has been an influential supporter of Democratic candidates. Federal Election Commission records show that the real estate developer has contributed thousands of dollars to Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. He also has contributed to Republican candidates, including former Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith and former Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, the first openly gay GOP lawmaker in Congress.

Mr. Bean has been photographed over the years with the Obamas and other prominent Democrats, and has been a guest of the president aboard Air Force One. At a 2009 Human Rights Campaign dinner, the president called Mr. Bean a “great friend and supporter.”

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In an interview in 2012 with PQ Monthly magazine, Mr. Bean said one of his proudest moments was Mr. Obama’s repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military.

“Another standout moment was the election of Barack Obama — because I knew from the beginning what an important advocate he would be for our community,” Mr. Bean said. “Maybe it’s because I knew him personally from the start of his campaign, but nothing he’s done on behalf of our community has surprised me, and it’s sometimes been frustrating to hear naysayers among us criticize him for not doing everything right away.”

He told the magazine that Mr. Obama’s re-election was crucial because, “I’d like to see a Supreme Court with a solid majority of progressives. Over the next few years, many LGBT cases will be heard at the highest level and it’s critical that President Obama is reelected so he can nominate judges who will treat our community’s concerns fairly and with an open mind.”

The White House wouldn’t disclose the purpose of Mr. Bean’s last visit with Mr. Obama on May 30. Among Mr. Obama’s events on that day, the president held a meeting of his “My Brother’s Keeper” task force, an initiative aimed at establishing more mentors for minority boys to help them succeed in school and beyond.

Mr. Bean’s record of political activism dates back to the 1970s, when he began advocating for local gay rights ordinances in Oregon.

In 1991 Mr. Bean co-founded the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a political action committee to raise money for gay and lesbian candidates. He has hosted fundraisers at his Portland home for Mr. Obama, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
He became the first gay member of then-Sen. Obama’s National Finance Committee as he prepared to run for the presidency in 2008.

And at a 2012 re-election fundraiser for the president in Portland, Mr. Obama thanked Mr. Bean publicly for organizing the event.

A local media story in Oregon from last June stated that Mr. Bean was paying the much younger Mr. Lawson a weekly allowance and brought him to high-profile events, including one at the White House where he met the president. The article in Willamette Week said Mr. Bean secretly filmed his sexual encounters with up to six individuals, including Mr. Lawson.

The newspaper said that when Mr. Lawson learned of the secret tapings earlier this year, he asked Mr. Bean for money.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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