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Newest D.C. Council member longtime backer of LGBT rights

Anita Bonds wins interim appointment to at-large seat

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Anita Bonds, gay news, Washington Blade

Anita Bonds (Photo courtesy of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee)

The D.C. Democratic State Committee voted Monday night to appoint its chairperson, Anita Bonds, a longtime ally of the city’s LGBT community, to fill a vacant at-large seat on the City Council until a special election is held in April.

Bonds, 67, has the reputation of being a consummate political insider who has been aligned with Ward 8 D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry since 1978, when Barry won election as mayor on a strong pro-gay rights platform.

“I have been supportive of the gay community for as long as I can remember,” Bonds told the Blade on Tuesday.

Her comment came a few hours after she was sworn in to fill a Council seat that became vacant when Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) won election as Council Chair.

“She’s the political operative extraordinaire,” said political commentator Mark Plotkin on Fox Five News.

At least seven out LGBT people are members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, including the president and vice president of governmental and political affairs of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group.

Two LGBT members reached on Tuesday said they voted for Bonds over her two challengers, former State Committee member John Capozzi and current State Committee member Douglas Sloan.

Gay State Committee members Bill O’Field of Ward 1 and Barrie Daneker of Ward 5 told the Blade they voted for Bonds because they admire her work in city government and politics for more than 30 years and recognize her longstanding support on LGBT issues.

Former Stein Club President David Meadows, who worked for Bonds as a State Committee staffer from 2007 to 2011, called Bonds a “pioneer” straight supporter of LGBT equality going back to the 1970s.

Seventy-one of the State Committee’s 80 members turned out to vote on the Council appointment at a meeting on the campus of Catholic University in Ward 5, where Bonds lives. She received 55 votes, capturing the Council appointment in a first-ballot vote.

Sloan received 7 votes and Capozzi received 5 votes. Two members attending the meeting didn’t vote for any of the three candidates, and a ballot cast by another member was invalidated, according to Daneker.

Sloan and Capozzi, like Bonds, are members of the Stein Club and are strong supporters of LGBT rights.

Bonds said she plans to run in the special election scheduled for April 23, where as many as eight ore more candidates are expected to enter the race, possibly including gay activist Nick McCoy.

Bonds’ association with Barry began at a time when Barry was considered the nation’s most LGBT supportive big city mayor. Although Barry continues to express support for LGBT equality in general, he lost support from most of the city’s LGBT political activists in 2009, when he and his Council colleague, Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), became the only two of the 13 Council members to vote against the city’s same-sex marriage law.

“I am a proponent of marriage equality,” Bonds told the Blade on Tuesday. “I watched him give his explanation,” she said, referring to Barry’s assertion that he was acting on behalf of his Ward 8 constituents, whom he said opposed same-sex marriage.

“But I would have voted for it,” Bonds said.

Daneker, who serves as the Stein Club’s treasurer, said he’s certain that Bonds doesn’t share Barry’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

“She’s been a strong supporter of LGBT equality for years and years,” said Daneker.

Meadows said Bonds came out in favor of the D.C. same-sex marriage bill at the time it came before the Council for consideration in 2009. The Council passed the bill in December 2009 by a vote of 11-2, and then Mayor Adrian Fenty signed it that same month.

Although observers said most of the LGBT members of the State Committee appeared to have joined their straight allies in backing Bonds, Ward 8 gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell spoke out against Bonds’ interim appointment to the Council. Pannell, a former State Committee member, has been at odds with Bonds over the years over various non-LGBT issues and State Committee actions.

Among other complaints, Pannell said he questioned Bonds’ commitment to LGBT rights after he learned that she appointed Council member Alexander earlier this year as one of D.C.’s three presidential electors pledged to President Obama in the Electoral College vote scheduled for Dec. 15.

Pannell, noting that Alexander joined Barry in voting against the city’s same-sex marriage law, characterized her appointment as an Obama elector as a “slap in the face” to the president, who emerged as a same-sex marriage supporter during his re-election campaign.

Bonds said she appointed Alexander at the recommendation of local and national party leaders and noted that similar to the appointment of all Democratic Party electors, it was cleared by the Obama campaign.

“We have to remember that we are the party of all of the Democrats,” Bonds said. “All who hold to the principles of the community of America – we’re not going to agree on everything.”

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein disputed Pannell’s assertion that Bonds’ appointment of Alexander as an elector raised questions about Bonds’ support for LGBT rights.

“I know Anita Bonds has been a strong supporter of our community,” Rosenstein said.

The other LGBT State Committee members who couldn’t be reached to determine how they voted on the Council appointment are Tobias Quaranta, president of the D.C. Young Democrats; Lateefah Williams, outgoing president of the Stein Club; Julius Agers, vice president for government and political affairs of the Stein Club; Ron Collins, former director of the Mayor’s Office of Boards and Commissions; and Gregory Cendana, member of the D.C. Asian Pacific Islanders Democratic Caucus.

Marion Barry, Washington D.C., Washington Blade, gay news

The D.C. Democratic State Committee appointed its chairperson, Anita Bonds, a longtime ally of the city’s LGBT community, to fill a vacant at-large seat on the City Council. Bonds is considered a political insider who has been closely aligned with Ward 8 D.C. Council member Marion Barry, pictured here. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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Comings & Goings

Peter Chandler named executive director of Internet Works

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Peter Chandler

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Peter Chandler on being named executive director of Internet Works. Since 2020, Internet Works has worked to ensure the voice of small and medium-sized online platforms is included in policy discussions typically targeted at the largest companies.

Laura Bisesto, chair of the board, said “We’re thrilled that Peter Chandler has joined as Internet Works’ Executive Director. The tech policy space is constantly changing, especially around intermediary liability, and as we work to ensure small and medium-sized tech companies are included in the policy debates lawmakers are having around the country, Peter was a natural fit for us.”

Chandler has 30 years of campaign, political, legislative, and advocacy experience at the state and federal levels. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Federal Policy and Government Relations at TechNet. During his time at the association, Peter was named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper. Prior to that he served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine). Chandler has also consulted and trained numerous political and advocacy groups, including the ACLU, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in 1998. In 2020, he was elected to the board of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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District of Columbia

New D.C. walking tour highlights LGBTQ history

Zach Patalingjug launched company in June in time for Pride Month

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Zach Patalingjug leads his Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour on July 13, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Sean Koperek)

Want to learn more about the city’s LGBTQ history while seeing some of the sights? Beyond the Landmarks’ Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour could be just the choice.

Zach Patalingjug launched the company in June, and offers walks that highlights some of Washington’s LGBTQ history.

The LGBTQ-specific tour starts with him emailing each person on the route with a meet-up location and some advice for the tour itself. His business last month saw a lot of tourists participate in his tour — in part because of Pride Month, and Patalinjug is hoping to keep the momentum. 

Patalingjug, who is from California, has traveled to more than half of the country’s states and has traveled abroad numerous times to sightsee and absorb cultures. He told the Washington Blade he became inspired to create his company after reading James Kirchick’s “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.”

Patalingjug spent a year researching his tour. He utilized the D.C. Central Library, where its fourth floor is dedicated entirely to the city’s history.

“I wanted to create a company that really explores the hidden gems, the lesser known history of Washington, D.C., to get the experiences that are truly authentic, and to tell stories that you don’t hear on most sightseeing tours,” he told the Washington Blade. 

The tours are between two to three hours long, depending on the group’s speed.

They officially start at 9:30 a.m., but Patalingjug recommends participants arrive 10 minutes earlier.

Each group meets in Farragut Square, directly outside of the Farragut West Metro station. The tour begins there and proceeds to Lafayette Square, where Patalingjug discusses the White House, the Hay-Adams Hotel, the former Lambda Rising bookstore, the Human Rights Campaign, the now-closed Chicken Hut near the White House, and myriad other locations. 

The tour ends in Dupont Circle.

Human Rights Campaign headquarters (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Patalingjug’s tour is more than a walk — each one is themed with topics that include “service, persecution, and liberation.

“Countless folks within the LGBTQ community have served and continue to serve the federal government,” he told the Blade.

He noted many of the people the tour highlights worked for the federal government before they lost their careers because they were outed or caught with a same-sex partner during the so-called “Lavender Scare.”

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry shortly before he stepped down in 2017 formally apologized to State Department personnel who were fired under the directive that then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued in 1953. President Joe Biden last year issued a formal proclamation on the policy’s 70th anniversary.

“For so many members of the LGBTQI+ community, hate, discrimination, and isolation throughout our country’s history have denied them the full promise of America,” Biden said. “The ‘Lavender Scare’ epitomized — and institutionalized — this injustice.”

Patalingjug’s tour highlights Frank Kameny, founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the city’s first politically active LGBTQ rights group that organized one of the country’s first gay rights protest that took place in front of the White House in 1965.

The protest highlighted the federal government’s discrimination against gays and lesbians. Kameny in 1957 lost his job as an astronomer in the Army Map Service because he was gay.

Frank Kameny Way in Dupont Circle is part of Zach Patalingjug’s Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour (Washington Blade photo by Sean Koperek)

The tour also highlights Margaret “Midge” Costanza, an advisor to former President Jimmy Carter who invited members of the National Gay Task Force, which is now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, to the White House in 1977.

“I’m just incredibly excited to be able to tell the authentic stories of people who lived through this period of history,” said Patalingjug.

Log onto Beyond the Landmarks’ website for more information.

Michael K. Lavers and Lou Chibbaro, Jr., contributed to this story.

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District of Columbia

Ruby Corado pleads guilty to wire fraud in plea agreement

Reduced charge says she stole at least $150,000 in COVID-relief funds

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Ruby Corado in El Salvador (Photo via Facebook)

Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of the now-defunct LGBTQ community services organization Casa Ruby, pleaded guilty Wednesday, July 17, to a single charge of wire fraud as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors with the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

The charge to which she pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for D.C. says she diverted at least $150,000 “in taxpayer-backed emergency COVID relief funds to private off-shore bank accounts for her personal use,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Court records show that U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden, who is presiding over the case, has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 10, 2025.

Corado’s guilty plea came a little over six weeks after prosecutors on May 31 filed a one-count criminal information charge of wire fraud against her that replaced an earlier criminal complaint charging her with bank fraud, money laundering, monetary transactions in criminally derived proceeds, and failure to file a required report of a foreign bank account.

The earlier complaint was filed at the time the FBI arrested Corado on March 5 of this year at a hotel in Laurel, Md., shortly after she returned to the U.S. from El Salvador. The initial complaint, like the new criminal information that replaced it, accused Corado of diverting at least $150,000 of federal pandemic relief funds to her own bank accounts in El Salvador. The charges say the funds were intended for use by Casa Ruby to support indigent LGBTQ clients in need of housing and other support services.

At the request of Corado’s court-appointed attorney and against the wishes of federal prosecutors, who said Corado would be a flight risk, another judge agreed to release Corado into the custody of her niece in Rockville, Md., under a home detention order. The release order came seven days after Corado had been held in jail since the time of her arrest on March 5.

In addition to a prison sentence, the charge of wire fraud also includes a possible penalty of financial forfeiture for which Corado could be required to pay restitution to the government. The plea agreement filed in court includes this statement to Corado’s attorney: “Specifically, your client agrees to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in an amount ordered by the Court, which is equal to the value of any property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offense in Count One of the Information in which your client is pleading guilty.”

However, legal observers have said that under a plea agreement like the one offered to Corado, prosecutors most likely will ask the judge for a lesser sentence. Corado’s attorney is also expected to point out that this is a nonviolent, first-time offense for Corado, which merits a lesser sentence.

Corado has denied wrongdoing in her operation of Casa Ruby in response to a separate civil complaint filed against her and Casa Ruby by the Office of the D.C. Attorney General. That complaint is still pending in D.C. Superior Court.

In its July 17 statement the U.S. Attorney’s office refers to court documents showing that Corado, “on behalf of Casa Ruby, received more than $1.3 million from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.” The statement adds, “Instead of using the funds as she promised, Corado stole at least $150,000 by transferring the money to bank accounts in El Salvador, which she hid from the IRS.”

The statement says that in 2022, “when financial irregularities at Casa Ruby became public, Corado sold her home in Prince George’s County and fled to El Salvador.” It says FBI agents arrested her at the hotel in Laurel, Md. on March 5 “after she unexpectedly returned to the United States.”

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