KARL ROVE, White House senior advisor
More than the architect of George Bush’s political rise -- first to the State House, then to the White House -- Dubya’s once-and-future campaign manager is responsible for making sure every administration decision conforms to a tightly controlled political strategy. Having made the religious right the motor of born-again Bush’s 2000 GOP primary victories over John McCain, Rove -- the White House’s steely, vengeful Enforcer whom Bush affectionately calls “Turd Blossom” -- signs off on every policy and appointment to make sure nothing ruffles Bush’s relationship with the religious zealots or threatens their joint commitment to creating a “Culture of Life,” as Rove has described it. He’s installed his ultra-conservative surveillance shock troops at subcabinet level in every department, designed the Faith-Based Initiative to buy off churches for GOP electoral purposes and dictated everything from the PACHA appointment of Tom Coburn to the firing of AIDS Czar Scott Evertz to the administration’s global war on the condom.
CLAUDE ALLEN, deputy health secretary
Recruited by Rove as his watchdog on HHS secretary Tommy Thompson (who has a much-exaggerated reputation as a “moderate”), this black conservative was a former top aide to PWA Enemy No. 1 Sen. Jesse Helms. As Health Commissioner for right-wing Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Allen bent public health priorities to the religious right’s agenda and led a state-sponsored anti-safe sex crusade that he had cooked up with the abstinence-only Institute for Youth Development, whose mission is to teach children to fear rather than understand sex. Says Allen of condom use: “It’s like telling your child, ’Don’t use the car,’ but then leaving the keys in the Lamborghini and saying, ’But if you do, buckle up.’” In November 2001, Thompson toed the Bush-Rove line when he put Allen in charge of supervising HHS’ audit of HIV-prevention spending.
TOM COBURN, PACHA co-chair
As a leading spokesman for the House GOP on health matters, the Oklahoma doctor called for firing the head of the CDC for “lying” about condom safety, pushed for mandatory names-reporting legislation and authorizing health-care pros to refuse to perform any invasive medical procedure until the patient is tested for HIV and voted to cut funds for the Housing Opportunities for People With Aids program (HOPWA). When Rove engineered his appointment as co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS last spring, The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized that he’s “the sort of hard-line ideologue whose narrow views should disqualify him from any role in designing federal AIDS policy.” While he has collaborated with AIDS activists as a sponsor of the Ryan White CARE Act, he recently told POZ, “Some of the worst enemies in solving AIDS are AIDS activists, because they’re so narrow in their focus that they don’t see the big picture.”
PATRICIA FUNDERBURK WARE, PACHA Director
A former actress, Ware has made a career out of promoting abstinence-until-marriage as the only acceptable guideline for sexual conduct. As education head of Americans for a Sound AIDS Policy (ASAP), she lobbied not only against any efforts that promoted education and protection over abstinence but also against including HIV and AIDS in the Americans With Disabilities Act. A leading devotee of “just say no,” Ware told a House committee in 1998 that “without a conscious and focused emphasis on the tenets inculcated in the abstinence-education approach -- sexual restraint tempered with morals and values, and a rebuilding of the two-parent family -- America will lose the battle of AIDS.”
MARK SOUDER, Congressmember
This Hoosier, who has replaced homo- and AIDS-phobic Tom Coburn as the AIDS community’s most active antagonist in Congress, chairs the House subcommittee that oversees HHS and comes from an (unfortunately) impregnable Republican district that used to be represented by Dan Quayle. Souder led the witch-hunt that is targeting 16 AIDS service and advocacy groups that received federal funding -- because some of their members joined the anti-Tommy Thompson protest at the Barcelona AIDS conference. He’s long been one of the feistier members of the GOP Class of ’94 -- the year Newt Gingrich’s so-called “Republican Revolution” took the House from the Democrats -- and has on occasion opposed his party’s leadership. That’s why the Bush administration was so eager to please this arch-conservative by launching the new AIDS funding probe. Souder, who is Amish, has proclaimed that “the most defining fact about me is that I’m an evangelical Christian” -- whence comes his doctrinaire opposition to safe-sex ed. It was Souder who pressured the CDC into launching its censorious investigation of San Francisco’s Stop AIDS Project for providing sexually explicit HIV prevention information to gay men (Souder believes all gay sex is “immoral”), and it’s Souder who has led the effort to purge the CDC of science-based prevention since Coburn left the House.
ROLAND FOSTER, senior congressional staffer
Congress is largely a staff-driven institution, and Foster -- a top dog on Souder’s HHS oversight subcommittee -- won his spurs as the Torquemada of the safe-sex inquisition when he played the same role for Coburn. A panoply of the well-funded ultraright groups -- from Rev. Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition to the Family Research Council -- works hand in glove with the Souder-Foster tandem in their well-funded war on science-based sex education and helps the congressional duo establish their hit lists.
Research assistance: Adam Bible