Magazine Publisher: LGBT Caucus Prez Threatened Me

Categories: Crime

EllenCohen101711.jpg
A disagreement over Ellen Cohen
The publisher of abOUT magazine, which targets Houston's gay community, has accused the president of the GLBT Political Caucus of making threats against his safety.

So who are the players? The publisher is Michael Lance Williams, better known as Cade Michals. He pleaded no contest to sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy in 1997, when he was 17. The GLBT Caucus head is Noel Freeman. (Note: Williams did some work with the Houston Press's Street Team in 2005).

The fracas concerns an October 7 opinion piece the magazine ran about former State Rep. Ellen Cohen, whom the Caucus has endorsed in her run for Houston City Council. The
piece, appearing under the byline "Jack H," accused Cohen of hypocrisy for accepting a $10,000 contribution from "ultra-conservative and anti-gay businessman" Bob Perry, of Perry Homes, in her final run for the state legislature. (The link includes an updated response from Cohen; the earlier print edition states that Cohen's office hadn't responded to questions by press time).

"How can a supposedly gay-friendly candidate accept money from a clearly anti-gay contributor?" Jack H. wrote. Hair Balls guesses it's for the same reason that abOUT runs online ads for Perry Homes.

Williams told Hair Balls that Freeman called him Monday night, displeased with the article, and told him, "I know where you live." (An HPD spokesperson confirmed that Williams did file a complaint Monday night.)

Freeman told Hair Balls that he didn't threaten Williams's safety; he just threatened to ask the magazine's advertisers to boycott, because the article was straight-up "yellow journalism."

Williams told us that Freeman called him three days after the issue hit the stands, accusing Williams of running a "smear campaign" against the Caucus, and that he asked for a retraction. But, because "there was nothing false [or] misleading in any way," he didn't think a retraction was warranted. He also accused Freeman of pilfering all the magazine issues from one merchant's racks.

Freeman denied that, and told us that, Monday night, he just called Williams to say, "What we're prepared to do -- how this is going to work on our end -- is we're going to contact all of your advertisers and urge [them] to drop their ads....I was very matter-of-fact about it."

In case you're wondering about the sex-offender bit, Williams told us that the incident stemmed from a consensual relationship he had when he was 16 and the complainant was 14. He says the boy's mother caught them together and waited a few months before filing a complaint, by which time Williams turned 17 and could be prosecuted as an adult. (The Texas Department of Public Safety registry states the victim was 13.)

An HPD spokesman told us that the complaint will be assigned to an investigator. We'll keep you posted.


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62 comments
Bad Cop No Donut
Bad Cop No Donut

I don't really understand why the publisher freely offered up the sex offender thing.  Seems like a bad idea to me, and I don't necessarily agree with the Press running with that part of it, but I suppose him advertising it publicly makes it fair game.  Nonetheless, I don't think anyone here really knows the whole story just from reading this article, but I am inclined to think the publisher heard "boycott" so he freaked out and filed a malicious police complaint and blew this thing way out of proportion thinking it would get the Caucus to back down.  I work in law enforcement, and you'd be surprised at how often that sort of thing happens between business or neighbors who don't get along.  It wastes a lot of our time having to investigate stupid things like this.  What I find so ironic is that the community had no problem with boycotts of Target and Chik-Fil-A because they did things contrary to the GLBT community's interests, but when a GLBT organization wants to boycott a magazine for whatever reason (and again, I think there's more to the story here), the focus of the boycott calls it a threat.  Hell, for that matter, right-wing groups do the exact same thing with companies that advertise on TV shows with gay themes or characters.  I just don't see why people are so worked up about this - it's an overtly political organization doing overtly political things about a political election and a magazine publisher getting pissed off because he might lose some ad revenue.

Montrosian
Montrosian

What on earth does his 14 year old offense (committed as a teenager???) have to do with this story??? Absolutely nothing. What crappy journalism. You have editors don't you?I don't know either person but I'm appalled that you felt obligated to include this completely irrelevant item.  It smacks of sensationalism.  If that was your goal, why not put it in the headline?  Or because both people are gay, you thought it would really stir up your readers?Mind boggingly bad judgement.

JustSaying
JustSaying

The information included was cited merely as a "smoke and mirrors" method to distract from, and discredit the source of, the allegations against Ellen Cohen, and additionally the police report filed against the LGBT Caucus President (the title of this editorial).

Ucan'tHaveItBothWays
Ucan'tHaveItBothWays

If someone has a criminal record, and especialy if he/she is the complaintant, then it is the duty of the reporter to state the facts that are already publicc record.  

Guest
Guest

Let me get this straight. Somebody runs an article which contains a bunch of facts that make Cohen and the Caucus look bad. Then the president of the Caucus calls that publication and makes threats? What happened to all the efforts against bullying? Isn't that what this is? I don't buy the argument of "other politicans are doing it - so it's ok"... that's a bunch of hooey from Cohen supporters. Incidentally, I'm betting most of the commenters here are Caucus or HSYD members - people who brownnose Cohen every chance they get. The president of HSYD was even called out....lol.

What a bunch of drama!

Make Mine Green
Make Mine Green

This just shows you the type of people who support Cohen. Birds of a feather!

Tim
Tim

Anyone who believes that Noel Freeman would engage in any untoward behavior with the media (or anyone) in his capacity as Caucus president needs a serious reality check. Honestly.

Guest
Guest

 Who are you kidding?

Sad!
Sad!

This is so sad that there are so many smoke and mirrors being thrown out here. I have personally know Cade Michals (aka) Michael Williams for a long time, and his past has never been hidden from anyone. Setting the record straight (Cade) was 16 at the time he was prosecuted for having a consensual RELATIONSHIP with someone that was 13. He is not a SEX OFFENDER. This happened almost 2 decades ago, and since this time, Michael has supported our community with passion. Raising money for the "It Gets Better Project" working with Asher Brown's family, helping create the first ever Children's AIDS Day, supported by Mayor Parker, being a major supporter of Bunnies on the Bayou, and a title sponsor of the Bayou City Boy's Club "Jungle Party"...... Sadly, he is attached by people that do not know him because he stood up for the community and published an article that TOLD THE TRUTH about a candidate.....

I proud of Keren Derr for standing up for Michael, I'm proud to call myself a friend of his, and it saddens me to see his personal life used for political gain.P.S. I also support Ellen Cohen

Very Sad in The WoodlandsKG.

Zach
Zach

Dear Sad!,

You know you have to be 18 years of age to comment online, right?  This would also eliminate you as a voter.  Lastly, it's 'attacked', not 'attached'.

Robert Shipman
Robert Shipman

This is the real "Robert Shipman"

I am the President of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats and we have proudly endorsed Ellen Cohen and continue to support her.

It is in my opinion that this is a very poorly written and misleading, at best, piece of journalism.  I encourage all voters to be informed on the issues and the candidates.

I live in the new District C and Ellen Cohen is MY choice for council!

Guest
Guest

Why is there so much written about the validity of the writer, publisher, publication, etc -- and not on the validity of the facts in the original story? 

Who cares who wrote it?

Is the article true, and am I voting for another "smoke and mirrors" politician funded by a CEO who doesn't support our community?

Joel
Joel

 There's so much written about the validity because it speaks to the facts of the situation. These guys didn't do their homework, or else they might have uncovered that this donor has given to everyone, including our lesbian mayor and current lesbian Council member Lovell. THe only reason this is being called out is because Josh Verde's campaign orchestrated it with his buddies at this bar rag. This group of idiots from Guava have no place running for office or even running a bar rag.

77006
77006

That's my concern as well. I usually vote the Caucus endorsement card. I thought I was voting for Ellen Cohen, but after this.....? She's just too politician for me

Zach
Zach

I am not advocating or negating loyalty to any politician as that would make me party to their unethical practices. However, to not vote for someone because they accepted money from a source that doesn't perfectly align with your beliefs is dumb. You will never find someone who only accepted money from YOUR approved list.  Every politician accepts money from both party line backers.  Corporations give money to rival candidates so that no matter which wins, they have favors owed by the winner. 

Guest
Guest

I think the issue here is that Ellen Cohen doesn't care who she takes money from and doesn't bother to screen donors. She  equivocates on almost every city issue punting it to some other group to decide or not even knowing basic things like the boundaries of her district per a recorded interview with Kuff. She didn't know how the drainage fee was calculated and she talks out both sides of her mouth. Even on taking contributions from anti-gay funders she's given two different positions, she told the chron she would take never take the money if she knew and then said, that it shouldn't prohibit. I believe she cares deeply about GLBT/Women's issues, but that doesn't necessarily translate into action.

She expects this seat for no other reason except she wants to be elected again and doesn't care about the office itself.

For those who point to Annise taking money-- does it make it ok? What has Annise done policy wise as mayor for the GLBT community? Instead she panders.

When will folks realize that GLBT does not automatically equal progressive?

Also, some candidates don't don't take corporate PAC money. It can be done.

Guest
Guest

Let's not lose focus of the fact that Ellen Cohen is a slippery politician and a master of telling any group whatever they want to hear and has a bad rep for faking it! Sue Lovell and Annise Parker took tens of thousands of dollars from Bob Perry too, does that make it right. Noel Freeman is no angel either and remains one of Lovell's puppets! Gay people bashing other gay people over Ellen Cohen, how sad!

Robin
Robin

Have you ever held an extended conversation with Ms. Cohen?  

Do you know how she starts EVERY speaking engagement?  She tells the crowd, regardless of who they are, that there are TWO things she is unshakable on.  Those are Women's issues and LGBT issues.  

She is NOT a career politician. She has only served two-two year terms at the state house.  

Her work at the Houston Area Women's Center and other organizations are proof positive to her commitment to our community.

She is a stand up woman and would never be allowed to be bought in exchange for her principles.  

She stands up (and acts) on her beliefs.  We need someone like her on council!

Guest
Guest

How'd you get "Robin" from "Robert Shipman"  ??

Cookie Monster
Cookie Monster

That Robert Shipman is a tough cookie.  Trust  & Believe.

Ray
Ray

Hmmm Sex Offender Michael Williams, who sexually assaulted a 13-year old boy (aka Cade Michals) worked for the same folks that own Guava Lamp and Vue.

Candidate Josh Verde is running against Cohen and is a bartender at Guava Lamp.

It doesn't take much to connect those dots.

I'd believe Freeman over Sex Offender Michael Williams, who sexually assaulted a 13-year old boy (aka Cade Michals), anyday of the week.

Guest
Guest

Can we be clear when you say "Sex Offender Michale Williams, who sexually assaulted a 13-year old boy [when he was 16, according to this article]" -- in perspective that's a freshman dating a junior....right?

Guest
Guest

I will go with the police report.  17 year old sexually assaulting a 13 year old. The age of 13 would place you as early as 7th grade.  The age of 17 would place you in as late as 12th grade-a senior.  This isn't Arkansas in the 1920s.  He should have known better.  Now he does though.  He only goes for 17 with written consent and up to 20.  Anything older than 20 is hands off.  But between the 17 and 20 he is sure HANDS ON. 

JEssica Thompson
JEssica Thompson

abOUT Magazine failed to mention a new press release that shows Ellen Cohen not only accepted funds from Bob Perry - But she also accepted several thousand dollars from the City of Houston BLACK LIST. Just the start. Ellen is a good candidate, but she seems to be skirting the truth a little.

WantingRealNews
WantingRealNews

And one candidate has weighed in on her facebook page:

Karen DerrSeveral people have asked me to comment on this. If true, I think Mr. Freeman and anyone else in that room when the call to Cade Michals was made should step down. The Caucus is the oldest and most prestigious GLBT Political group in the south and perhaps the US. These actions certainly are not reflective of its founders or the majority of the members. I'd like to know if Mr. Freeman acted alone. I feel this type of bullying has no place in political groups whose mission is to engage, not alienate. As disappointing as this turn of events is, it is good that the community is having this important conversation about following the money in campaigns.

Jsimon77019
Jsimon77019

And guess what ... the publisher lied to HPD and the complaint got dismissed.  Good for Karen to go calling for someone's resignation over something that never even happened.  I'm glad she places the word of a child-molester and known liar over one of the best poltical organization we have in town.  What a bitch.  I hope the Caucus remembers this the next time she comes begging for an endorsment.

Zach
Zach

wtf?  Why is Karen Derr defending this sex offender without first taking the time to make some calls and get the correct story?  This just proves she will fail in politics just like she's been failing her elections.  

Tim
Tim

Anyone who believes that Noel Freeman would engage in any untoward behavior with the media (or anyone) in his capacity as Caucus president needs a serious reality check. Honestly.

Guest
Guest

Interesting to see Karen Derr taking the side of a known liar and sex offender over that of a LGBT activist and President of a well-respected organization. It probably doesn't have anything to do with the fact that she didn't get the GPC endorsement and Ellen Cohen did.Karen Derr is right about the GPC being a prestigious group and its members are educated and take politics seriously - those same members voted not to endorse Karen Derr. They seem pretty smart to me.

Sour grapes much?

guest
guest

Karen Derr's statement was conditioned on whether or not his allegations were true and did not accept them as fact.

NPC
NPC

Even though her comment was conditioned, her inexperience shows through by wighing in on something without getting the facts first.  It makes her look desperate for votes.  Just what the HGLPC needs is a straight person telling them when they should resign.

77006
77006

They've endorsed her (Karen) before. History negates your argument.

Guest
Guest

The argument is, she didn't get endorsed this time around and is a bitter old lady.History doesn't negate that argument, history is she didn't get endorsed this race. And the present is she's taking the time to post on a Hairballs story on the Houston Press at 9pm on a weeknight instead of running a campaign for elected office.

An Informed Voter
An Informed Voter

If this were a true investigative piece on Pro LGBT Candidates accepting money from ANTI LGBT contributors, then ALL of the candidates and officials who accepted his money should have been highlighted.

77006
77006

I see. Your criticism is only about the journalistic quality of the article, not the substance. You have a point.

An Informed Voter
An Informed Voter

I am not denying that the contribution was made.  I am saying the whole story needs to be told.  Don't narrow the focus on Ellen.  It doesn't even relate to this race.  

Perry Homes advertises on AbOUT magazine's website.  Where is the outrage over that?  

I am asking them to do a thorough and accurate job in reporting.  Tell the whole story.  Put some perspective to it.

Ms. Cohen's actions (and I might add, those of Mayor Parker, CM Lovel, CM Noriega, and more) prove their commitment to the LGBT Community.  The world of politics is small.  Businessmen make contributions all the time.

Do you have an iPhone?  Or is ATT your wireless carrier?  Have you ever shopped at Target?  Do you buy Brawny paper towels?  Anti gay money is everywhere.

The proof is in the pudding.  Ellen (and the others) did NOT act in a manner against the community.  That is the meat of this debate.  

Zach
Zach

I don't know, and certainly not defending the abOUT magazine by any means, but the ad could have been auto-populated through the Google ads?  

Zach
Zach

Since the emphasize was incorrectly placed on the word DOES and not the word NOT it would seem clear this was posted by one of the highly intelligent editors at abOUT Magazine.  

WantingRealNews
WantingRealNews

LOL!  Just call Perry Homes and ask them if they ever advertised on AbOut's page.  I doubt that they ever did.

Joel
Joel

Haha, the real story being what? A politician received a contribution from someone who funds every other politician including our lesbian mayor? I reiterate, this is nothing more than a piece of crap attempt at a publication. If they really want to be journalists, they should probably go back to school and learn how to write an editorial.

An Informed Voter
An Informed Voter

Its a shame that private business records aren't public record, isn't it?  Who would take time to photoshop something like that?  REALLY?  Lame excuse!

Jason
Jason

Perry Homes DOES not advertise with abOUT Magazine, nor have they ever! The Houston Press received a image (screen shot) of abOUT Magazine's website that had been photo-shopped to show a Perry Home's ad on their site. This really goes to show the fact that people are really willing to do whatever it takes to try and derail the real story here.

Joel
Joel

AbOUT magazine is a sad little bar rag. There is no decent design behind it, nor can these supposed writers even put together a coherent sentence. The magazine is filled with so many spelling and grammatical errors it makes my eyes bleed. Now these guys who know nothing about real journalism pen a so-called "opinion" piece about one of the staunchest advocates the gay community has. And for what purpose? Because one of their buddies who bartends at Guava Lamp with them is running for the same seat. They don't even have the balls to put an actual byline on it, but rather use a fake name. Woody Gould should seriously examine the type of people he has working for him.

An Informed Voter
An Informed Voter

Ellen Cohen has been, and continues to be, one of the staunchest straight allies that the LGBT  community has.  The contribution in question was made to Cohen during her bid to the Texas House of Representatives, not her current race for city council.  Search Bob Perry for other money donated, you'll find that he gives money to a LOT of candidates, including CM Sue Lovell, Mayor Parker, CM Melissa Noriega, and more..

Whoever said that the Noel and the Caucus is under the influence of Lovell must have been missing in action for the past few months.  The Caucus stepped out and endorsed several candidates opposite from those that Lovell is supporting.  (Pool over Fraga, Jones over Laurie Robinson).  Lovell no longer calls the shots at the Caucus, that ended with the Banks administration.

77006
77006

So if other candidates take Perry money that makes it ok?

Amanda
Amanda

If it's that big a deal why isn't this magazine attacking Mayor Annise Parker over taking money from Perry THIS election? The money they're talking about was in another race for a different office. You've got 2 lesbians at city hall who have accepted Perry money and no one is flipping out over it.

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