Opinion: A Blood Money Call to Action

Gemmel “Juelz” Moore (left) and Ed Buck (Facebook)

My love affair with West Hollywood began when it was a safe haven for our LGBTQ community. Now, this beloved city is being managed by those hungry for power, hungry to get themselves ahead; willing to sell themselves out to the very developers and big business that continue to keep them in office. They are so easily bought, and, sadly, willing to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye towards injustice as it stares them in the face.

Where the balance of power, politically and socially have shifted — this is the NEW West Hollywood. Where those in power allow marginalized gay men to die in vain because they would much rather push their power hungry agenda then support this community and their constituents within it.

As I left the vigil on Monday night for the yet-to-be-identified John Doe — the latest of two victims of Democratic Party donors Ed Buck — I felt impassioned and angry for the sake of Gemmel Moore and the unidentified man for whom justice has yet to be served. Let’s face it, this city is full of its own privilege. It’s full of its own sense of entitlement. It’s full of its own sh-t.

The death of Gemmel Moore was swept under the rug, and before it happens again to Buck’s latest victim, something has to be done. These men were black. These men were gay. These men are more than just statistics.

I will not stand idly by because I can and will do more. In 2011, I ran for West Hollywood City Council as the “dark horse” to create an impact on the political climate of this city. I also was a recipient of the maximum allowable contribution ($500) from Ed Buck. Now I consider this blood money, and I want no part of it.

So I propose a Call to Action. This Call to Action is a challenge to any and all candidates, current or former office holders or organizations that have received contributions from Ed Buck (whether before or after the death of Gemmel Moore) to return them.

I will start with myself. I would like to return the money contributed to my campaign by Ed Buck to the Justice 4 Gemmel Moore fund (www.justice4gemmel.org), in the hope it will help ensure this never happens again. What happened to Gemmel Moore and John Doe is unfathomable.

The names of the individuals and organizations who received contributions from Ed Buck are public record and the receipts are there. May all of the recipients rise to the Call to Action and return this blood money for the greater good and the greater cause. You who received money from Buck know who you are, and if you don’t give that money up, soon the spotlight of complacency will be on you.

Blood is on your hands at this point and justice needs to be served. Do the right thing and help these two men Rest in Peace and Power.


John Duran for LA County Supervisor
Amount Recv’d: $13,000
Date: 1/6/2014, 2/11/2014, 4/21/2014, 5/17/2014
Amount Returned: $0
Statement Made: No

John Duran for City Council
Amount Recv’d: $1,000
Date: 11/28/2012, 6/18/2016
Amount Returned: $0
Statement Made: No

Neighbors for a Better West Hollywood in Support of Lauren Meister for West Hollywood City Council 2015

Amount Recv’d: $2,000
Date: 2/4/2015
Amount Returned: $0
Statement Made: No

Lauren Meister for West Hollywood City Council 2015
Amount Recv’d: $500
Date: 2/1/2015
Amount Returned: $0
Statement Made: No

John Heilman for West Hollywood City Council 2017
Amount Recv’d: $2,000
Date: 5/25/2017, 6/1/2017
Amount Returned: $0
Statement Made: No

D’Amico for City Council
Amount Recv’d: $1,000
Date: 9/29/2010, 7/24/2014
Amount Returned: $25
Statement Made: No

  1. Crystal Meth is Weho and Weho is Crystal Meth. Own it.

    Two generations of men were killed or had their lives destroyed by meth. And now it’s back again as Weho is a “safe” place for gays to do their drugs and all the other things that go with their culture.

    It’s the hypocisy of the thing, not the campaign money.

    These are the people who want to tell the rest of the country how the live, what to think and who to vote for. Give us a break.

    Look in the mirror Weho!

  2. At this time, I think we should let politicians keep donations from previous campaigns. Going back years to campaigns long over and at the scale of our local government could represent a major burden to those impacted.

    On the otherhand, politicians should not accept future contributions from this man and return funds donated to ongoing elections provided that doing so would not place extreme hardship on existing campaigns.

    As far as charitable organizations that do good work for our community, the money is still spent to support their hard work irrespective of the source. If Ed Buck still wants to support the groups financially why should they have to turn away one homeless teenager, or deny services to one individual with AIDs just because the man who donated these funds did something horrible? Still, they should not offer him special recognition for his contribution, request that he not attend major events, & even keep his donations anonymous.

  3. This is an important Call to Action because we have queer black men who are the victims of this unfortunate tale. As a result, giving back to groups that support this vulnerable population is key. Thank you, Mito Aviles and Rep. Ted Lieu, for doing the right thing.

  4. Beyond consideration of returning previously accepted donations from Ed Buck is the elephant in the room question. Did those that accepted donations not witness the problematic behavior evidenced by Buck?

    Look even further to those that contributed to his campaign for city council, the documents are on Weho.org etched in chicken scratch by his treasurer. Any sane person would have been aware of his volatility at city meetings and events plus his past in Arizona. It pays to scrutinize resumes beyond causes as one can easily be guilty by association.

    So exactly when do his friends and supporters make a move to nip this pending, exponential disaster of excessive drug use? Apparently they believed the cover story of rescuing Golden Retrievers and now believe the story that he was rescuing young (and older) black men on the streets. A one man intervention and rehabilitation center at 1234 Laurel Avenue with a built in buffet of drugs, paraphernalia and then some.

    1. Allow me a moment of much-needed levity, but if volatility at city meetings is a measure of anything, then we’re all in a heap of trouble. That counts for many participants and some of the officials on the dais.

      1. Not sure we need levity in this matter. The word volatile was used sparingly when in fact Buck exhibited diabolical tendencies in his pursuit of those he did not agree with. He set out to unequivocally destroy them. We seem to tolerate many who evidence this drug addled behavior and in doing so allow the meth epidemic to grow. So again I ask where are those “friends” or “political friends” in search of $$$ when it comes to intervention? Individuals like Ed Buck present as a public menace.

  5. I agree that the political system needs to be held accountable for whatever inaction it might be responsible for, and to the extent campaign contributions played some part in decisions by elected officials, then accountability is in order. That is a separate matter from the fact that these two men died. If political influence is determined to have occurred, then those accountable have far greater PR worries than a few hundred dollars in contributions.

    However, any blanket call for the return of donations from years past is an exercise in political naivete which starts a slippery slope of demands from all sorts of parochial interests demanding the return of donations. It’s merely a publicity stunt that does nothing to erase the horrific nature of these men’s deaths. If anything, it’s a distraction from the task at hand, which is investigating fully. The national, indeed international, attention on this matter has been a focus on Ed Buck the Democratic donor–this is about two men who died in the same apartment in the span of months.

    Accountability, absolutely. Grandstanding, no thanks.

    Full steam ahead on a diligent investigation, please. The separate process of any connections in past delays can also be a focus of attention. I believe the process can chew gum and tie its shoes at the same time.

  6. Ted Lieu is giving the $18,500 donated by Buck for his federal campaigns to these orgs:

    Lambda Legal – $5,000
    NAACP – $5,000
    GLAAD – $3,000
    The Trevor Project – $3,000
    Equality California Institute – $2,500

    Others are starting to follow suit.

    Will Duran donate the $14,000 (or more) he gladly accepted from Buck? Don’t hold your breath.

  7. Mito. Thank you for this. It is an interesting question … What is the responsibility and response when a donor has shown him or her self to represent qualities that are not consistent with the candidate’s values? This is one possible response. Mr. Buck donated to my campaigns 9 and 5 years ago and those dollars were spent on those campaigns. I have not asked nor would I accept donations for this 2019 campaign from him.

    Keith and I have donated many times the amount you have listed each year for decades to extraordinary organizations that help people right here in our community. Organizations like APLA, the Alliance for Housing and Healing, the LALGBT center, APLA, the Group Psychotherapy Association, the Rape treatment center, The CALARTS fund, Poor Dog Group, the ASPCA, The Sierra club, and on and on. It is part of who we are and I would guess part of who all the councilmembers are.

    We are all disturbed by these actions and want justice to be served. I have and the entire city council has called for an open, transparent and thorough investigation by the new Sheriff Villanueva – into this case and the Gemmel Moore case. We expect that to happen.

    1. With all the “well being” contributions did it ever occur to you that you had a supporter and friend well linked with your FurFree campaign that was in deep trouble? Are you a conscious being or simply going through the motions of being a “public servant”? The activities of Mr. Buck were well known to many but enhanced with the death of Mr. Moore but they appear to have eluded your vision?

      Not believable.

      1. It is 100% believable that Buck was doing this sh-t, before he donated to John D’Amico, or, maybe this started happening afterwards. Either way, it doesn’t mean that John knew anything about it.

        I am not defending Buck, in any regard. But why is it so hard for some people to believe that people are all not black-and-white? No pun intended here. He could’ve been donating towards worthy political causes, and at the same time, been a closeted drug addict who lured young men to his apartment. Why is it the responsibility of great public servants, like John D’Amico, to return the money, if he found out afterwards? Buck might be a slimeball, but that doesn’t mean that his money didn’t go to a good cause. And it doesn’t mean that D’Amico is not a great public servant.

        I don’t defend Buck in any way by saying that. I also believe in due process.

        I pose a new question: why do so many people think that every public servant is corrupt? Is every donation going to be vetted? And if they find out after-the-fact, they are somehow culpable? John D’Amico is a great public servant. He owes no apologies. And he doesn’t have to give any money back. He does great things for the community, and probably donates more than most people you or I know of. To worthy causes.

        John already committed to not taking any more money from him. Now that he knows. And he was at the protest the other night. He doesn’t owe anyone anything for what happened in the past, and for people that he didn’t know were doing these types of things.

        Lastly, when John was elected, his campaign money might not
        be any longer available. You are asking this man to dig into his own pocket, just to save face, about something he didn’t know about, when he already donates probably more money than the average West Holywood Citizen to worthy causes? Please.

        1. Not every public servant is corrupt. Public servants would be better served to have excellent radar because any misguided associate could take them down. Even without the latest information about Buck’s drug use and related behavior, his general demeanor and past history was a flashing red light on several levels.

          High integrity is a character defining aspect of many in public service and any professional position. Only wisdom and good judgement can guide one past the perpetual obstacles.

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