David Dodd 10:32 a.m., May 25
Legitimacy of new pro-DeMaio LGBT political committee questioned
Two pro-DeMaio LGBT political committees -- Gay Friends Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012, and Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 -- have popped up in the past week. That appears to be good news for councilmember Carl DeMaio who has had struggled to earn the support from many in the LGBT community.
"We felt it was time for his LGBT supporters, and there are more than you think, to come together, to 'come out' in public support for him and counter the biased and lopsided reporting taking place in the media, particularly some in the LGBT media," says Patrick Adams, founder of the Gay Friends Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012.
But all may not be as it appears when it comes to the other committee, says Adams. Adams says he has never heard of the people involved with the Conservatives for Gay Right Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 and he questions whether the committee is who they say they are.
Concerns were raised after Adams called the phone numbers that he found on the committee's "statement of organization." The contact for the committee is Jessica McElfresh, a prominent Medical Marijuana and criminal defense attorney who has appeared several times before the City Council on behalf of Medical Marijuana advocates.
"We are a non-partisan group working with Democrats and Republicans," said Adams in a subsequent phone interview. "This other group, well, we have some concerns that they aren't supporting [DeMaio] at all. Instead they might be gay-baiting and trying to distort [DeMaio's] record.
Many Medical Marijuana advocacy groups have given their support to DeMaio's opponent, Representative Bob Filner. And, some of those same groups have shown how far they will go to push their agenda.
McElfresh denies any foul play. The attorney says she was hired to find a treasurer and file the necessary paperwork.
"I don't consult on [the committee's] mission or on ways to accomplish their mission."
"My work for this group is solely in a professional capacity. I can tell you," adds McElfresh, "the committee is what and who they say they are."
The attorney says the Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 has filed a new, revised, statement of organization with additional details, including a new contact number. However, McElfresh did not know the name of the contact.
In an email, sent to us after publication, James Schmachtenberger, president of Patient Care Association and the treasurer of Citizens for Patient Rights, said his two groups have nothing to do with the political committee.
"I can assure you that neither of these organizations are in anyway connected to any sort of efforts or groups similar to those described in this article.
Yes, we have endorsed Bob Filner for Mayor, since he has a consistent record of actions and votes in favor of medical marijuana access in San Diego City.
That said, we hope to work with whomever becomes mayor, and we were happy to hear that Carl DeMaio is also interested in pursuing a solution for safe access.
Jessica McElfresh is a talented lawyer who has done some great work on behalf of our members. That said she works in a number of legal arenas, and her work for other organizations and individuals is independent of us and our cause."