Marquita Thomas vehemently denies she was asked to resign for fundraising with Chamber database

Thomas rebuttal below:
Update: Questions swirl about the departure of Marquita Thomas from the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. Two sources, one of whom is an LGBTQ Chamber member told WEHOville that Thomas was asked to resign after it was discovered she was using the chamber’s database to fundraise for her campaign. WEHOville has reached out to Thomas for clarification.

Marquita Thomas, a candidate for City Council in next month’s election, has resigned her position as CEO of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, according to a joint statement. The ballot statement which has been mailed to voters will have information that is neither current, or correct.

“After many years of service our Executive Director, Marquita Thomas, who has served LAGLCC through many seasons of our community’s progress, has decided to leave the Chamber to pursue other endeavors. We want to thank Marquita for her service to LAGLCC during a dynamic time in the history of our community, and against a very challenging political climate. We wish her all the best with her future endeavors.

Moving forward the Chamber will have an Interim Director that will be appointed at some time in near future. In the meantime, we are commencing a search for a permanent Executive Director and expect to engage the services of a nationally recognized executive search firm that specializes in non-profits to help us identify candidates for the position as expeditiously as possible. Various duties have been delegated throughout the Chamber to ensure that the Chamber’s operations will not be affected in any way.

Your Board of Directors are committed to the mission of LAGLCC and look forward to the great things that we as a community will accomplish in the years ahead together.”

WEHOville reached out to Thomas for comment, and she submitted the following rebuttal on Monday. WEHOville stands behind our sources.


Marquita Thomas’ rebuttal against false claims

Last week this publication ran a story about me. As much as I like seeing my name in print, the accusation made in that story is absolutely not true. 

I have worked very hard for small businesses over the past 13 years and recently left the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) to continue to work for certified small businesses in a larger capacity so imagine my surprise when, like the rest of you, I read the story in Wehoville that I had been asked to resign for using the LAGLCC database to fundraise. If you were surprised by this claim, imagine how surprised I was!

For the past 13 years, I have been a board member turned board president turned Executive Director of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC). A large part of my role there was diversifying corporate and municipal supply chains to include LGBT small businesses in a program known as supplier diversity. In short, corporations subcontract with small businesses and often try to improve the economic development of historically underutilized communities by identifying, cultivating and contracting with small businesses owned by racial minorities, women, and veterans.

My job was to expand these efforts to include certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs). Because LGBT is not a federally protected class, I had to work in different sectors to encourage LGBT inclusion. In 2017, I worked with my colleagues at other minority chambers to address the lack of diverse subcontractors on a multi-billion-dollar waste management contract for the City of Los Angeles and used the opportunity to highlight that the City’s diverse subcontracting initiative did not include LGBTBEs.

I furthered the conversation with then-Commissioner Heather Reppening to implement the inclusion of LGTBTBEs in the City, however Commissioner Reppening left the City to run for office. The conversation then went on to Los Angeles’ Head of Procurement who left the City of Los Angeles to work for the County before LGBTBE inclusion was solidified. A fourth effort included a strategic planning session with LA’s former President of Public Works Kevin James and 5 months later, the City of Los Angeles announced that it was recognizing LGBTBEs in its contracting, making it the largest city in the nation to do so.

Another accomplishment I had in my role was lobbying the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on an aspect of AB1678 that codified LGBTBE inclusion in General Order 156. AB1678 called for the CPUC to decide if a.  there should be a spend goal for LGBTBEs and b. what the spend goal should be. After two years of presenting arguments, I am proud to say that the CPUC landed on a spend goal of 1.5% beginning in 2024. In real numbers, that is $600 million per year in spend for LGBT diverse suppliers in the state of California.

Between the work I did at the City level, the county level and the CPUC, there will be approximately $1B in annual spend with LGBT small businesses. If you are an LGBT small business, I implore you to please get certified (nglcc.org/get-certified), there are so many opportunities for you to get connected to large-scale contracts. If you are in construction and infrastructure, please get certified immediately as construction and infrastructure are the largest spend categories for utilities like Southern California Edison, SoCalGas, LA Department of Water & Power and more. There is a truly dire need to connect with LGBT owned small businesses in those industries but if you are not in construction but rather professional services, still get certified, there are opportunities for you as well especially with companies like Sony, TMobile, Viacom and more. In addition to getting LGBT certified, you should consider getting SBE (Small Business Enterprise) and DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) as well.

Wehoville could have posted about the extensive work I’ve done supporting California-based small businesses but instead made claims that are a ridiculous and false narrative and when you think about it, one that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

As the only full-time employee of the LAGLCC, I maintained the LAGLCC database and grew it from a mere 250 people to over 9000+ when I left. Almost everyone in our database got there because I met them through networking and put them in the database in the hopes of guiding them into membership or a corporate partnership.

When fundraising for a campaign, one calls on their colleagues for support. As a business advocacy candidate, I of course reached out to my very large rolodex of small businesses, it would be a little strange for a candidate who claims to support small businesses to not be supported by small businesses, no?  Are some of my 300+ donors in the LAGLCC database? Sure. Did I cold call members I did not know for contributions? No. I would not want a member to feel that they have to support the Executive Director of their chamber or risk not getting connected to opportunities.

Anyone who is in any way connected to the LAGLCC knew of my run for West Hollywood City Council, I had yard signs at our last mixer, the entire room – board members and attendees alike – raised a toast at our November 2021 mixer at Le Peer when I announced my candidacy, and I had a link to my campaign in my email signature. My candidacy was openly promoted to our members and my board took no issue with it, in fact members of my board maxed out on my campaign and offered to volunteer.

If I had done what Wehoviille claims, chambers do not throw 13 years of stellar performance and strategic growth down the drain over solicitation calls. In fact, in many cities, the local chamber of commerce gives candidates its database so they can share their thoughts on economic development with the small business community who will be most impacted by their policies.

So, sorry folks but this story is 100% false and I am disappointed in Wehoville for posting an update that calls my character into question and to do so so close to an election. Every vote counts and elections in West Hollywood have been lost by as little as 100 votes, to give residents a reason to question my character when ballots are still out is unfair and irresponsible. I am also disappointed that Wehoville took no steps to find out if this accusation is true. Brandon Garcia texted me to ask me if I wanted to provide “my side of the story” but as he did not at all tell me that there was an accusation, I had no idea what he was talking about. I assumed he wanted to know more about my leaving the chamber. It was by complete happenstance that I came across the updated story at all, after at least a dozen comments had been left. I then reached out to Wehoville by phone and the publisher provided conflicting information on the alleged “sources”. The story states that there were two sources, but on the phone Wehoville’s publisher said there was only one source. Then Wehoville alleged the source was an LAGLCC board member but then admitted to not knowing who the board members of the LAGLCC are. For all Wehoville knows, the “source” is another candidate or someone working on behalf of another candidate. 

To print a salacious story because ONE person sent an email is again, irresponsible. You may not care about me, Wehoville commenter, but I’m sure you’ll care if it happens to you.  Apparently all it takes is one nameless, faceless person sending an email for this platform to smear your name. I suspect that as we get closer to the election, there will be even more “sources” with even more juicy bits of information about candidates, myself included.

I do not want West Hollywood to be a city of disinformation and scandal but rather a city of opportunity so I will end this by simply saying again that the opportunities for certified LGBT small business are at an all-time high. From marketing to catering, construction to consulting, if your company is 51% or more LGBT owned and based in the US, start your certification journey at nglcc.org/get-certified. If you have any questions about how to get contract-ready or how to find out the requirements and expectations of working with corporations and utilities, I am more than happy to help, email me anytime at marquita@marquita4weho.com. Let’s talk about this and any other questions you have about me and my plan for small businesses in West Hollywood at my next meet and greet from 6PM to 8PM at the upstairs area of Formosa Café on November 1st and don’t forget to vote for Marquita Thomas on November 8th! RSVP at marquita4weho.com 

Publishers Note: Despite Thomas’s claims that WEHOville printed a story with only one anonymous email is incorrect. WEHOville confirmed with a direct source their perspective of the allegations and reasons for her sudden departure. In Thomas rebuttal she blames WEHOville, and incorrect information but provides no reasoning why she decided to leave the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce with three weeks to go until the election. In fact, the LGBTQ Chamber was left without a replacement, and Thomas left the Chamber with no notice. It appears she did not give the Chamber a customary two weeks notice when a departure is on good terms, or the Chamber did not give her two weeks notice either. Thomas is welcome to share the reasoning behind her departure anytime.

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Hawking on IG
Hawking on IG
3 months ago

MT is now hawking herself on Instagram.🙄. Her page is not illustrative of a public figure in any way, shape or form.🙄.

No Dignity
No Dignity
3 months ago

No dignity whatsoever.

Grifters Pro Max
Grifters Pro Max
3 months ago

Very odd to resign like this with no backup “day job.” I guess those donations were pouring in rather nicely. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

Wehoan
Wehoan
3 months ago

I received a door hanger from the Thomas campaign today and it states she is the executive director of the lgbt chamber. She resigned and claims to have done this voluntarily. Is she voluntarily lying too? It’s false advertising and shows that she is a liar or a fraud. One or the other.

Winston
Winston
3 months ago

If she resigned she must have written a beautiful thank you letter. She should release that if she is telling the truth.

Self Congratulatory
Self Congratulatory
3 months ago
Reply to  Winston

That would be nice to see rather than this rather offensive long winded self congratulatory tome. Seemingly conflicted individual, not believable.

Weho resident
Weho resident
3 months ago

I was going to say not a winning message, but when I accidentally typed whining message it made more sense.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
3 months ago

WEHOville should remove the word rebuttal from the update. It is not a rebuttal, it is a deflection.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago

I’m sorry, I don’t believe her. It would be highly unusual that someone would resign from a prominent position (one that they were promoting during their run for city council) right before the election. Another good point made by WehoVille, she left without notice or if it’s as she said (she left of her own doing), she didn’t have the decency to stay until they found a replacement. Terrible optics. I don’t believe Ms.Thomas, nor will I be voting for her. Good luck to her.

Last edited 3 months ago by JF1
Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
3 months ago

How is stealing names for your own fundraising for your campaign be ok to gloss over? MT had my interest before but does not now! If put in the position of a City Council person….what more will she do to further herself once she has access to city things….MT, you should step down as a candidate….there….I said it!

Bathing Beauties
Bathing Beauties
3 months ago

Nomination for MT as Executive Director of Swimsuit Competitions @ Mar-a-Lago. 🏊‍♂️🏆❤️🧚‍♀️😍

Campaign Donation
Campaign Donation
3 months ago

Polished up her dancing shoes last night at PC, coat tailing remarks of others but stating that she would have little grounds to deny the project. Who wants to bet she will be soliciting a campaign donation from Todd Elliott? Bingo!

Marc R
Marc R
3 months ago

Ms. Thomas has always shown strong positive character in the position of director of the LAGLCC and I know many members have benefited from her tireless efforts. I’m confident she will bring the same dedication to City Council.

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
3 months ago

If she’s been with LGBT Chamber for so many years, it’s likely she has built personal relationships with many in their database and this seems more a matter between her and the LGBT Chamber to handle, which it appears they have done so in a way that works for each of them. I don’t think we should conclude anything more about this given that no complaints have been filed to the FPPC and such limited information is available.

Mighty Awkward
Mighty Awkward
3 months ago
Reply to  Josh Kurpies

What more information does one need about an ethically challenged individual? The awkward exit was somehow softened by the fact that she had served the chamber for many years and allowed to resign but in no way eradicates the fact that she used their database whether or not she had personal relationships with many. Of the 90% of campaign contributions, Only 8 names of campaign contributors appear to be from from West Hollywood, whereas 90% are from LA and far flung places, multiple names from a family developer and one from the West Hollywood Housing Corporation.

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