UPDATE: The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office has announced that it has granted immunity to prosecution to several people who have offered to come forward with information about their relationship with Ed Buck.
Black activists have launched a petition demanding that West Hollywood City Council members and other politicians return money they received from Ed Buck to to the “Justice 4 Gemmel + All of Ed Buck’s Victim’s Fund.”
Gemmel is Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old African-American sex worker who was found dead last month in the Laurel Avenue apartment of Ed Buck, a white gay man who is a prominent local activist and donor to Democratic Party candidates. The L.A. County Coroner’s Office attributed the death to methamphetamine. The L.A. County District Attorney has launched an investigation into the matter. The victims fund “will help with legal costs as well as supporting the family of Gemmel Moore and all of Ed Buck’s victims,” said Jasmyne Cannick, a black communications and public affairs strategist.
The petition was first reported this morning by Cannick, who has been active in demanding that Ed Buck be investigated for his possible involvement in Moore’s death. On her website Cannick has published pages from a journal that Moore is said to have kept in which he chronicles his use of meth, a highly addictive and dangerous drug, and his paid encounters with Buck. Other young black men also have approached Cannick with similar stories.
“Buck has given hundreds of thousands of dollars of Democratic causes and candidates over the years,” says a statement on the petition’s homepage. “His Facebook page boasted dozens of photos of him with everyone from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman and even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.”
“Most of Los Angeles’ Democratic and LGBT community–which are often one in same – has had nothing to say publicly about Moore’s death. Politicians who have received thousands of dollars from Buck over the years have been curiously silent. Democrats are often the first to call on Republicans to return money at the slightest hint of impropriety — there seems to be a double standard when a Democratic donor is involved in the wrongdoing.”
“Just the fact that the allegations have been made and reported on in the news that these politicians are most influenced by should — and normally would — be enough for Democrats to return their donations and issue statements distancing themselves from the accused. But for the most part, nothing. Is it because Ed Buck is white? Is it because he is white and gay? Is it because he often maxes out on contributing to their campaigns? Is it because the accusers are black gay men? Is it because the accusers are black?”
While the petition calls out donors for their silence, several members of the West Hollywood City Council have expressed their condolences to Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon. Nixon asked the Council at a meeting on Aug. 21 to demand that the district attorney grant immunity from prosecution to young black prostitutes who otherwise would not come forward to testify about their relationships with Buck.
Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, who has not received donations from Buck, told Nixon that she was pressing the L.A. County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Department to investigate Moore’s death. Mayor John Heilman and Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister each offered condolences to Moore’s mother. Councilmember John Duran, a lawyer, warned that young prostitutes with allegations about Buck should consult a lawyer before testifying because they were putting themselves at risk of prosecution.
In her announcement of the petition, Cannick listed federal, state and local politicians who have received money from Buck. Her list shows donations of $38,700 to John D’Amico, whose initial election to the City Council in 2011 was a project of Buck’s. Buck, an animal rights activist, endorsed and campaigned for D’Amico based on his support for a ban on the sale of fur in West Hollywood. However, in an interview with WEHOville, D’Amico noted that his two campaigns for City Council have received a total of only $1,000 from Buck, all of which was spent on campaign activities. While some council members maintain officeholder accounts that hold leftover campaign donations, D’Amico does not. Cannick notes that D’Amico has made a donation of $25 to a fund established by Moore’s mother to pay for his funeral expenses.
The list also shows $24,700 in donations to John Duran, $2,500 in donations to Lauren Meister and $2,000 in donations to John Heilman.
Because individual campaign donations are limited to $500 per candidate, Cannick’s list apparently includes donations to independent campaign expenditure committees such as Animal PAC and, in Duran’s case, to his unsuccessful campaign for L.A. County Supervisor.