John Duran’s Facebook Bromance with Pete Buttigieg Goes Viral

West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran with presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Miami. (Facebook)

City Councilmember John Duran’s Facebook post of himself sharing a hug with Pete Buttigieg, the only gay contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has gotten the attention of the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the world’s most highly trafficked news website.

“EXCLUSIVE: Pete Buttigieg is pictured twice chumming it up with scandal-hit ex mayor – even AFTER 2020 hopeful’s team was told of sex misconduct claims against Californian Democrat,” is the headline of a story published on the Daily Mail website today.

The Daily Mail posted a photograph of Duran, 59, with Buttigieg, 37, on June 21 at the Presidential Candidate Forum hosted in Miami by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), which Duran chairs. “With 8 Presidential candidates and 1000 Latino elected officials! I have to admit it – falling for this guy right here! Mayor Pete Buttigieg So bright and clever! Adelante!” Duran wrote under the photo which he posted on his Facebook page, where he identifies himself as the mayor of West Hollywood and says he “invented homosexuality.”

The Daily Mail also published another photo that Duran had posted on his Instagram account of him with Buttigieg, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, and several others attending a fundraiser for Buttigieg at Gwyneth Paltrow’s Los Angeles mansion in May.  

“The photos with the #MeToo-hit former mayor, however, could prove embarrassing for Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay presidential candidate,” says the Daily Mail story.

Pete Buttigieg, third from left, with Duran, on the right, at the Gwyneth Paltrow fundraiser. (Instagram)

In its story, the Daily Mail says that after publication of the photo of Duran and Buttigieg together at Paltrow’s event, one of its reporters had reached out to Buttigieg’s campaign to ask if he was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct and other behavior by Duran that led the West Hollywood City Council in April to censure him, the Stonewall Democratic Club to demand that he resign from the Council and various other LGBT organizations to condemn him. Those allegations were that Duran acted inappropriately with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he chaired until February. He denied the allegations but stepped down from his longtime position as chair after facing criticism from many of its members for his conduct and for GMCLA’s dismal financial position, which led some to fear it would declare bankruptcy.

The Council’s decision to censure Duran also was inspired by his claim in a radio interview that he was the only sexually active member of the City Council and  his claim in an interview posted on Splinter, a website published by Gizmodo, that two of his fellow Council members hadn’t had sex in 20 years, one rarely has sex because he is married and the other has trouble getting a date. The Splinter story called out organizations such as the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ Task Force, the ACLU and Equality California for declining to comment on the accusations about Duran. Duran also was quoted making a derogatory comment about one of the chorus members who accused him of inappropriate behavior, saying “he’s not my type” because he is “a skinny Korean kid with pimples on his cheek.”

“The campaign didn’t invite him (Duran), he hasn’t contributed to the campaign, and we don’t believe they had ever met prior to Thursday’s event,” said a statement from Buttigieg’s campaign about the Gwyneth Paltrow event. Responding to Duran’s post on Facebook of a photo of himself embracing Buttigieg, the Daily Mail reports that a spokesperson said:  Buttigieg “meets any number of people at events, especially an event as busy and crowded as NALEO, and he meets and takes photos with hundreds of people without knowing their backstory.’”

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Duran described Buttigieg as an “extraordinary” man and said the presidential hopeful recognized him at the conference.

“He caught my eye across the room and he smiled, you know, I smiled back, it’s the third time I’ve seen him, he came up, we embraced each other and I said ‘how’s it going?’ I thanked him and we took our photograph together.

“I think he continues to amaze and impress me, but it’s still so early. He’s just doing an incredible job.”

In response to an inquiry from WEHOville, Duran criticized the Daily Mail, alleging that its reporter claimed to be calling from the Buttigieg campaign when he interviewed him and only revealed that he was working for the Daily Mail during the ensuing conversation.

“The Daily Mail is a tabloid known best for its unreliability and sensationalism. Wikipedia won’t even allow for the Daily Mail to be used as a reference,” Duran said, criticizing WEHOville for reporting on the Daily Mail’s reporting.  Duran also claimed that Newsguard, an online service that rates news site for their accuracy, says of Daily Mail “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” That, however, is not true. Newsguard gives the Daily Mail website a “green” rating, stating that it ““generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

In its story, the Daily Mail recited the controversy over Duran’s hiring his City Council deputy after soliciting him for sex on Grindr. A dispute between that deputy, Ian Owens, and Duran led to Owens suing the city and Duran, alleging sexual harassment. Duran denied the allegation, and the city settled the suit with a payment of $500,000 in 2015.

Former West Hollywood City Council Deputy Ian Owens, left, with Councilmember John Duran (Facebook)

Duran responded to questions from the Daily Mail about the photo he posted from the NALEO conference. “I think only people who are ridiculous would say that,” Duran said, when asked if being photographed with Duran could hurt Buttigieg’s campaign. Duran said it was unlikely that Buttigieg knew much or anything about the allegations about his behavior.

“I’ve been doing LGBT rights for 40 years and in 40 years I had this thing happen in January with the Gay Men’s Chorus, one complaint was filed, and it was determined not to be true,” he said. However, the only complaint that was formally filed and investigated was not determined to be untrue.  The outside investigator reported that there was insufficient evidence, given that the alleged encounter involved  only Duran and his accuser, to verify the accusation. Three other young men made other accusations of sexual misconduct in a story published in the Los Angeles Times but didn’t file complaints with the then-director of the Chorus, Jonathan Weedman, who was forced to step down after he was alleged to have forced a young man to perform oral sex. Weedman has denied that allegation..

“People here in town they love me or they hate me,” Duran told the Daily Mail. “What made such a scandalous headline for people has now mostly blown over here and people know me for my 40 years of work.”

Indeed, prominent local leaders continue to appear in photographs with Duran that he posts on his Facebook page. Recent ones have featured City Councilmember John Heilman, California State Treasurer Ricardo Lara, and Tom Kiely, head of the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board.  


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Alan StrasburgAwesome WehoMichael GraceDj MendelsohnSteve Martin Recent comment authors

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Michael Grace
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Sadly, John Duran’s haughty dismissal of the London Daily Mail as a is stretching it. Founded in 1896, it’s a middle market newspaper with the second largest circulation in the UK. The Daily Mail has had numerous stories featuring John Duran over the years and according to my contacts the reporters have interviewed him many times. It was Duran who pitched the Mayor Pete story. In May 2018, the Daily Mail had three major stories with Duran quoted, grand standing and celebrating WEHO Stormy Daniels Day. Duran even went on about how Daniels and her indicted lawyer Michael Avenatti were… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
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Alan Strasburg

Shocking, I say, absolutely shocking that one would suggest that an attention-hungry narcissist would pitch a story to a huge publication way across the pond that otherwise likely has no journalistic radar attached to the social media platforms of a former titular mayor of a small hamlet in Southern California. Good, bad, or ugly, true or not, all news is attention.

mike m
Guest
mike m

I just an earlier post about Duran- Two people were supporting him. Two people I know . Both work In Weho. Both support this man. I don’t know why . Boggles the mind. He does insinuate himself on every situation.

Ham
Guest
Ham

what a creeping and disgusting person. West Hollywood needs to become a serious city……the current image is not serving the residents, businesses and homeowners.

Awesome Weho
Guest
Awesome Weho

Anyone who saw him on the City Council Pride float, front and center, legs spread like some kind of ridiculous gay superhero, knows that Duran is 100% about attention and delusional adoration.

He’s the Ivanka of West Hollywood.

Michael Grace
Guest

Looks like the Democrats Gay power brokers didn’t react well to this. They must have given John Duran a major slap on the wrist. Because Doran has killed any mention of this on his Facebook Page.

Dj Mendelsohn
Guest
Dj Mendelsohn

I just think Mr. Duran need to starting paying back the 500,000.00 or coming to some kind of agreement. It would serve as a respect factor for the city given its limitations to produce income and the big loss they took on his behalf. But more importantly it would show respect, responsibility and humility in order for a 40 year political history to just blow it over. I just find the integrity factor lacking on many accounts. However, this is a big one

Michael Grace
Guest

In the Daily Mail story on John Duran and Pete Buttigieg, Duran claimed that before they met, they had caught each other’s eye a several times across the crowded party room.

Makes you want to ask: “Which eye?”

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

I believe the Buttigieg campaign when it said that duran was neither invited to Paltrow event, nor did he contribute to the campaign. He contributed his vote for Ms. Paltrow’s Arts Club resulting in a quid pro quo invitation to this event. His need for attention, his delusions of grandeur about Mayor Pete’s gaze and admiration from across the room, his love of the camera are only superficial (and annoyingly embarrassing) personality quirks which draw attention away from how the city is governed, and how the balance of the council enable him and his corrupt relationships and petty antics. Too… Read more »

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Thanks Alan for your insights on the Arts Club connection and the Paltrow event. But Duran did more than lend his vote to that project; he lead the charge to support the developer. If Duran cares about Pete Buttigieg, indeed if he cares about the LGBTQ community, he would quit chasing the limelight and retire. Whatever good he did the community in decades long ago has been eclipsed by his recent behavior which reflects an incredible level of entitlement and arrogance. Duran is a poster boy for the enemies of our community who claim that gay men can’t be trusted… Read more »

mike m
Guest
mike m

Great point.

Jonathan Simmons
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Jonathan Simmons

I am serious, Mr. DURANS comments to the daily mail were first: his goal, publicity, 2: Obscene in our world and especially the Current Political race. True or not (not true seem obvious) but to say Their Eyes met from across the room and the was something magical in only DURANS head, HE IS A MARRIED MAN. GAY OR STRAIGHT YOU DON’T PUBLIC ALLY SAY TO WORLD MEDIA THERE IS SOMETHING THERE BETWEEN THE TWO. WHY… BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH GAY. HE IS MARRIED AND HOWEVER LOOSE DURAN ENJOYS LOCKER ROOM SEXUAL ANTICS, THAT IS HARDLY A UNIVERSAL OR MAJORITY… Read more »

enemyofthestate
Guest
enemyofthestate

What, me worry?

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Duran was removed as mayor but you would not know it from his facebook profile as of today.. Saturday, June 29th.. His profile says he is the current mayor, former mayor, and the inventor of homosexuality, – he shows no respect for the current Mayor D’Amico by continuing to still use the mayor handle on his social media. The city should have a policy against any council member misrepresenting themselves.. in fact when a newscaster called Lindsey Horvath.. Mayor Lindsey Horvath just as her term ended and Lauren was the new mayor it caused quite a fuss. Duran has been… Read more »

mike m
Guest
mike m

Well he’s delusional or doesn’t want to face the reality. His arrogance cost him his position as Mayor. He doesn’t realize his behavior says a lot about him. Sad and disgusting at the same time. I hope the new Mayor charts a new course for Weho. Time Duran faced reality and start behaving like an adult.

Ham
Guest
Ham

aren’t these people adults???? who acts like this?