Members of Gene Locke's mayoral campaign have been tied to anti-gay attacks against openly lesbian Annise Parker, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The two candidates were the two top vote-getters out of a field of seven in November and will face each other in Saturday's runoff to lead Houston, the nation's fourth largest city. Parker's sexuality and long history of gay activism was a non-issue before winning a top spot in the runoff.

But as the campaign tightened, several groups have attempted to make it an issue. Last month, about 35,000 fliers featuring Parker being sworn into office as city controller while her partner of 20 years, Kathy Hubbard, looks on with the caption, “Is this the image Houston wants to portray?” were sent to voters. The fliers were paid for by long-time gay foe Dave Wilson, a 62-year-old sign company owner.

The mailer sent out last week by conservative activist Steve Hotze urged voters to reject Parker and several other candidates because they were “endorsed by gay lesbian political action committee.” The Houston Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Political Caucus endorsed the candidates. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that supports gay and lesbian candidates, has also endorsed Parker for mayor.

Hotze's political action committee, Conservative Republicans of Harris County (CRHC), paid for the mailer.

In its December 4 Texas Ethics Commission filing, CRHC lists a $20,000 donation from Ned Holmes, finance chairman of Locke's campaign. James Dannenbaum, who is on Locke's finance committee, contributed another $20,000. The two contributions occurred in late November or about a week before the mailing went out.

CRHC has been active since the 90's and is known for supporting anti-gay candidates and opposing gay rights.

The Parker campaign has alleged Locke is coordinating efforts with Hotze's PAC. Coordinating efforts between a political campaign and PAC is illegal under Texas campaign finance laws.

“Locke's campaign has been meeting with Hotze's strategist, and they even offered him a job,” Adam Harris, campaign manager for Parker, told the paper. “Hotze's funders are Gene's closest advisers and major financial supporters. Locke is either behind all the illegal coordination or has absolutely lost control of his campaign.”

“Either way, that's bad for Houston and we deserve better,” he added.

Polling gives Parker a slight edge in Saturday's election.