Trebor Gordon, the director of community outreach for a Houston city councilman , was caught on video earlier this week attempting to block a Muslim man from serving in the Republican Party on the basis of his religion, the Washington Post first reported yesterday.
During a meeting for the Harris County GOP Precinct 415, Gordon, a staff member for at-large councilman Mike Knox, took the microphone to object to the appointment of Syed Ali, who is Muslim, as precinct chair.
"I move to remove the chairman and founder of the Muslim Council of USA Syed Shaid Ali on the grounds that Islam does not have any basis or any foundation. It is in total opposite of our foundation," Gordon said at the meeting, to a quiet chorus of jeers. "I would ask you to take into consideration the fact that Islam and Christianity do not mix."
"We can continue to try to be inclusive and I get that. That matters to me," Gordon continued. "But I will also tell you that during my prayer this man did not bow his head. During the Pledge of Allegiance he did not utter a word, he didn't even try to fake it and move his lips. He halfway tried to put his hand over his heart for the Texas pledge. If you believe that a person can practice Islam and agree to the foundational principles of the Republican Party, it's not right. It's not true. It can't happen. There are things on our platform that he and his beliefs are in total opposite from."
Then, almost as an aside, fellow precinct chair Mike Robertson stood up and questioned whether Islam is actually a religion.
"Has there been any factual information provided that Islam is a religion?" Robertson asked.
At that point, Robertson was pretty much booed out of existence. The motion was forcefully voted down,.
So evidently Gordon, a community liaison for a Houston City Councilman Mike Knox councilman, harbors prejudicial feelings about Muslims, who just so happen to be a large part of Houston's community.
"Obviously he's made some incendiary comments that this office does not support or approve of in any way," Knox said in an interview. But despite the outburst, Knox said he will keep Gordon on his staff.
"To be honest with you, I like to think that I'm a fair person, I understand people make mistakes in judgment on occasion," Knox said. "This is the first time that I've seen any of this in him since he's been employed with me. We've had a discussion about it. He understands our position here and I believe that he's rethinking his position, and we're going to be monitoring him a little bit to see how he does, and provided he's making progress in the right direction, I just think the fair thing to do is work through that. This sort of thought process is important to correct. If he's not my employee, then I cannot correct it."
It's hard to understand how Knox wouldn't have known that Gordon felt this way about Muslims, considering Gordon was apparently very open about it. Gordon's public Facebook profile (which was deleted or deactivated late yesterday afternoon) and his public Twitter page have often featured repostings of Islamophobic viral videos, memes or articles, with Knox often adding his own comments in approval.
Just one day before Monday's meeting, Gordon shared on Twitter a link to an article celebrating an airplane passenger who removed another woman's hijab. The website, barenakedislam.com, sells "counter Jihad" shirts with slogans like "Join the Crusade" and "It isn't Islamophobia When [sic] they really ARE trying to kill you."
Gordon did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment on Thursday.
In a brief interview Thursday, Knox told us that what Gordon does and who Gordon disdains in his personal life is his own business, and that that shouldn't concern the Houstonians he supposedly serves as outreach director for an at-large council member's office.
"He was out on his own time, doing his own thing," Knox said. "He was not representing me or the city, it wasn't a city function. It appears to me that they handled the situation fairly well. They voted him down rather substantially, so that's that."
According to his website, Gordon is from Kentucky but has lived in Houston for more than 17 years. Per Gordon's LinkedIn page, he ran for city council a few years ago, and prior to that he was an associate pastor at the non-denominational Central Canaan Christian Church and was an account manager at Dr. Pepper-Snapple. His various online biographies also claim he served a total of ten years in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps & U.S. Army Medical Corp.
In 2014, while he was running for council, Gordon sued the City of Houston, claiming its political fundraising blackout period was unconstitutional. A federal judge ruled in favor of Gordon in February last year. Three months later, federal court records show Gordon filed for bankruptcy.
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Gordon's old campaign website espouses tightening the city budget and revitalizing the economy while citing his own acumen as a businessman, but he has apparently had problems managing his personal finances. In addition to his current bankruptcy case, Gordon had also filed for bankruptcy in Washington in 1986, according to federal court records.
Despite Gordon's title being "Director of Community Outreach," Knox told us that Gordon's role on his staff is primarily oriented toward business and management.
"I've got him researching projects that I'm interested in pursuing to help the city streamline its efforts as far as the delivery of city services," Knox said. "One project he's working on is the Office of Business Opportunity, to expand that and perhaps make it more efficient and productive as far as helping minority business progress into the prime vendor status, that sort of thing." According to its director, the Office of Business Opportunity was established to "ensure that the City’s small, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises have meaningful participation in the city’s procurement process."
Between his very public displays of Islamophobia and his two filings for bankruptcy, Gordon sure sounds like the perfect guy for the job.