Darren Parker, the chair of the California Democratic Party’s African American Caucus, has said he will write a resolution on behalf of the caucus calling on the state party to return any donations from Ed Buck.
“Too often there are ills in the African American community that we just don’t discuss,” Darren Parker said in an announcement of his decision. “These issues that we don’t bring to the surface are starting to define what happens to our people. So I thought it was important — one, as a chair who believes in transparency, who believes in education even in adversity that we have to talk about the things that we’re uncomfortable with or even hearing about.”
Parker’s decision was supported by Devin Murphy, chair of the California Young Democrats Black Caucus. “As chair of the young, Black Democrats this is absolutely something we should be talking about and addressing,” he said. Also
speaking out about the matter was Evan Minton, Northern California chair of the California Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus. “Especially in the wake of the Me Too movement, we need to remember that troubling actions involving power and control can take place between and among all genders and gender identities,” Minton said. “Further, we need to bring to light and take just as seriously each aspect of (the) case as we would if the alleged perpetrator were Black and the alleged victim were White.”
Parker’s announcement came after pressure for members of the Democratic Party to take action in the case of Ed Buck escalated on Saturday when Jasmyne Cannick, the communications and public affairs strategist, asked the California Democratic Party’s African American Caucus to speak up.
Appearing at the caucus’s Winter board meeting in San Francisco, Cannick compared the response of state and local politicians to the death of Gemmel Moore, a young gay black man found dead of a drug overdose in Buck’s apartment, to the response to allegations of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, the famous film mogul. She argued that there is a double standard.
“Ed Buck is being protected right now with our silence,” Cannick said to members of the caucus. “When we can shun Harvey Weinstein, when we can shun other members of our party, who do wrong by women — we have had over 10 young black gay men come forward … to talk about how this man has Injected them in their sleep, has forced them to do meth and other things. Has preyed on the most vulnerable people in our community. Young black gay. Young black gay and homeless. Young black gay and homeless and HIV positive.”
Cannick, to loud applause from the caucus audience, called on the caucus to push the California Democratic Party and Democratic politicians to return donations to their campaign from Ed Buck or donate the money to the “Justice4Gemmel” campaign.
Gemmel Moore, 26, was found dead on July 27 in Ed Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment in West Hollywood. Moore was a sex worker who claimed in a journal he kept that Buck, a 63-year-old gay man known for his political campaign donations and his fight to ban the sale of fur in WeHo, had paid him to do drugs with him. Buck’s attorney denies that allegation.
The L.A. County Coroner initially ruled Moore’s death an accident due to a methamphetamine overdose. But the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department decided to open an investigation in August after protests from Moore’s mother and others who argued that Buck was being protected because of his donations to Democratic candidates’ election campaigns. The investigation is ongoing. Cannick has been working with Moore’s family to push for action on Gemmel Moore’s death. The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that investigators from the Coroner’s office had found drug paraphernalia in Buck’s apartment when they arrived.
A campaign called “Justice 4 Gemmel” has listed the dozens of national, state and local candidates who have received donations from Buck. In West Hollywood, the largest beneficiary of Buck’s donations has been City Councilmember John Duran. Direct contributions to Duran’s City Council or L.A. County Supervisor campaign committees totaled $14,000. Another $3,200 was donated to Duran’s campaign by Animal PAC/Social Compassion in Legislation for Animals. Ed Buck, who lobbied successfully for a ban on the sale of fur in West Hollywood, is that group’s largest contributor.
Buck donated a total of $4,000 to Councilmember Lauren Meister’s 2015 election campaign. Half of that went to
“Neighbors for a Better West Hollywood in Support of Lauren Meister for West Hollywood City Council 2015,” a political action committee, and half went to Meister’s own election campaign committee.
Mayor John Heilman received $2,000 in his 2017 re-election campaign from Buck. City Councilmember John D’Amico received a total of $1,000 from Buck, with half to support his initial 2011 election campaign, which included a pledge to ban fur sales, and half to support his 2015 re-election. D’Amico is listed on the “Justice for Gemmel” website as having returned $25.
City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath is the only current council member who has not received a donation from Buck.