HRC to Whitfield: Humane Treatment for Horses, But Not People?

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On day of Congressman’s Beverly Hills fundraiser at notorious Sultan of Brunei’s hotel, questions are raised about Whitfield’s commitment to human rights

WASHINGTON –– Ahead of Congressman Ed Whitfield’s weekend fundraising gala at the Sultan of Brunei’s Beverly Hills Hotel, today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, raised questions about the Congressman’s commitment to the human rights of citizens abroad who face the prospect of being stoned to death as a result of the Sultan’s new laws.

New reports have surfaced that Whitfield (R-KY) and others will encounter protestors today as they show up at the Sultan’s hotel in Beverly Hills for the Whitfield “Thoroughbred” PAC’s three–day fundraising event.  According to an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation, each guest is expected to pay between $1,500 and $3,000.

While Whitfield highlights advocating for the “humane treatment of animals” as a “major legislative accomplishment” on both his congressional and campaign websites, these Beverly Hills events—and the $35,000 he and his “Thoroughbred” PAC have spent at the scandal-plagued Sultan’s hotel this election cycle—tell a different story about his commitment to human rights.

“Everyone can agree that all animals should be treated humanely. Congressman Whitfield prides himself on championing the humane treatment of horses and other animals, but what about the humane treatment of people?” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President for Communications.  “Shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to a regime that could stone women and LGBT people isn’t the sign of a true humanitarian.”

Yesterday, HRC criticized Whitfield’s decision to host a fundraiser during his “district work period” at a hotel owned by the notorious Sultan of Brunei in Beverly Hills, CA.  According to the Washington Post, Whitfield and his political action committee have booked The Beverly Hills Hotel bar, its “poolside cabana,” as well as space for a private dinner.

The Sultan has faced an international backlash following his decision in April to begin implementing a horrific series of penal code reforms that could lead to stoning of women and LGBT people in Brunei.  The United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned the penal code reforms, and stated that stoning is considered to be "torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" under international law. 

The Human Rights Campaign, civil rights organizations, as well as prominent citizens and leaders in business and philanthropy have widely condemned these draconian laws, and have urged all citizens to stay away from the Sultan’s hotels. These actions have led to a sharp drop-off in business for Sultan’s hotel in Beverly Hills and have impacted others around the world as well.

“It’s deeply disappointing that Congressman Whitfield sided with the Sultan and against the fundamental human rights of women and LGBT people in Brunei,” said Sainz in yesterday’s statement.  “He’s already handed over tens of thousands of dollars to the Sultan through his hotel, and that stream of cash needs to stop." 

According to OpenSecrets.com and the Center for Responsive Politics, Whitfield’s “Thoroughbred” PAC has spent four times more money at the Beverly Hills Hotel than it has contributed to state and local parties and candidates in Kentucky this cycle.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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