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LGBTQ voters to choose among friends in D.C. elections

Out gay candidates considered viable in Ward 1, 5 Council races

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Incumbent Council member Brianne Nadeau faces a challenge from gay candidate Salah Czapary in the June 21 primary. (Blade photos by Michael Key)

In what LGBTQ activists consider a highly positive development, all serious candidates running for mayor, D.C. Council, Attorney General, and the city’s congressional delegate seat and “shadow” U.S. House seat in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary have either expressed strong support for LGBTQ issues or have long records of support on those issues.

Activists following the election say they expect LGBTQ voters — like all D.C. voters — to decide who to vote for based on a number of other issues, including public safety, affordable housing, and whether the city’s public schools should remain under mayoral control or return to the previous system of an independent school board, among other issues.

“We are fortunate to live in a city where all candidates support the LGBTQ community, so it is other issues our community is focused on,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Mayor Muriel Bowser’s re-election bid for a third term in office.

Other LGBTQ activists, including former Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall, are backing D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) for mayor. Like Bowser, Robert White has a long record of support on LGBTQ issues.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and community activist and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner James Butler are also running for mayor in the Democratic primary. Trayon White has supported LGBTQ issues on the Council and Butler has expressed support for those issues.

The other races on the primary ballot on June 21 include D.C. Council Chair; At-Large D.C. Council member, Council members for Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6; D.C. Attorney General; D.C. Congressional Delegate; and U.S. Representative, also known as the city’s “shadow” House member with no voting powers in Congress.

In an action that surprised some in the LGBTQ community, the Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest LGBTQ political group, has endorsed Robert White over Bowser in the mayor’s race and Democratic challenger Erin Palmer over incumbent longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Phil Mendelson for the D.C. Council Chair position.

Capital Stonewall Democrats has also endorsed incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau over her out gay challenger, former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary, who has been endorsed by the Washington Post and by former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.

The LGBTQ Democratic group has endorsed the second out gay D.C. Council candidate running this year, D.C. Board of Education President Zachary Parker, who is among seven candidates competing for the open Ward 5 D.C. Council seat. Incumbent Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie is not running for re-election.

Parker has been endorsed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, the Washington Teacher’s Union, and the Sierra Club among other local political groups. Both Czapary and Parker were endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national group that raises money to help elect LGBTQ candidates for public office.

The other candidates competing with Parker for the Ward 5 Council seat include former At-Large and Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange and community activists Faith Gibson Hubbard, Gary Johnson, Art Lloyd, Gordon Fletcher, and Kathy Henderson.

In other races, Capital Stonewall Democrats voted to endorse D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is running unopposed in the primary; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is favored to win re-election against two lesser-known challengers; and D.C. shadow U.S. Rep. Oye Owolewa, who’s also favored to win over a lesser-known opponent.

The LGBTQ group did not make an endorsement in the Ward 3 and At-Large D.C. Council races and in the D.C. Attorney General’s race because no candidate received a required 60 percent of the vote from group’s members under its longstanding rules for endorsements.

Eight candidates are running for the Ward 3 Council seat for which incumbent Council member Mary Cheh is not seeking re-election. A ninth candidate, Tricia Duncan, dropped out of the race earlier this week and endorsed candidate Matthew Frumin. Some political observers say Frumin and former city budget director Eric Goulet are the two frontrunners in the race. The other candidates include Henry Cohen, Ben Bergman, Beau Finley, Monte Monash, Deirdre Brown, and Phil Thomas. All have expressed strong support for LGBTQ equality.

Also expressing support for the LGBTQ community are the three candidates running for Attorney General — Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones, and Bruce Spiva. Each is a practicing attorney at separate D.C. law firms.

In the At-Large Council race, three candidates are challenging incumbent and longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Anita Bonds – Lisa Gore, Nate Fleming, and Dexter Williams, each of whom also expressed support for the LGBTQ community.

In the D.C. Congressional Delegate race challenger Rev. Wendy Hamilton served as minister for the LGBTQ supportive Metropolitan Community Church in suburban Maryland and describes herself as a strong LGBTQ ally. The second challenger to incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton is community activist Kelly Mikel Williams, who also expressed support for the LGBTQ community.

Jatarious Frazier, the Capital Stonewall Democrats president, said Norton’s years of acting as a champion for LGBTQ rights on Capitol Hill made her an easy choice for the group’s endorsement for re-election.

Political observers have said the current “dividing line” between the city’s Democratic candidates who run against each other in the primaries historically has been whether they position themselves as moderates or left-leaning progressives. Democratic voters, including LGBTQ voters, also fall into those two ideological camps, according to observers.

But some political observers say the Ward 1 and Ward 5 D.C. Council races, where openly gay candidates are running, have raised the question of whether LGBTQ voters should vote “gay” rather than follow their ideological leanings, to bring back LGBTQ representation on the Council for the first time in eight years.

The late gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) left the Council in January 2015 after losing his 2014 re-election bid to incumbent Ward 1 Council member Nadeau. Gay former D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) left office in 2015 after an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2014.

Supporters of Czapary and Parker have said a member of the LGBTQ community on the D.C. Council would offer important representation for the LGBTQ community that a straight ally cannot necessarily provide on issues such as homeless LGBTQ youth and persistent hate violence to which the LGBTQ community, especially transgender women, are faced with.

In addition to being endorsed by AG Racine, the Teacher’s Union, and the Sierra Club, Parker received the endorsement of Ward 4 D.C. Council member Janeese Lewis George, who’s considered one of the Council’s left-leaning progressives, as well as the endorsement of the left-leaning groups Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party.

Parker told the Washington Post he doesn’t view his race for the Ward 5 Council seat as being one of moderate versus liberal left.

“You will see a range of people that span ideology [supporting me],” the Post quoted him as saying. “And that is what we need more of in our political system,” he told the Post.

Czapary, who states on his campaign website that he supports progressive values, says he holds positions on key issues as a moderate Democrat, including issues related to public safety. He has supported Bowser’s call for the Council to increase the police budget to restore funds the Council cut from the police budget two years ago. He points out that Nadeau was among the Council members that voted to cut the police budget.

Nadeau has said she has taken strong action in support of public safety policies, including violence interruption programs that Czapary also supports.

Czapary’s supporters, including the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed him, say he too would transcend ideology to work for solutions to the problems facing Ward 1 and the city. As the son of a Palestinian refugee and a Hungarian immigrant, he would become the first Arab American to serve on the D.C. Council, his supporters point out.

“D.C. boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ individuals per capita of any large U.S. city,” Czapary told the Blade. “Our city’s policies must respond to the needs of these communities and support the most vulnerable within them,” he said.

Less than a week before the June 21 primary, it couldn’t be determined whether “progressive” LGBTQ voters in Ward 1 would back Czapary or whether “moderate” LGBTQ voters in Ward 5 would back Parker.

With many political observers saying both Parker and Czapary have a shot at winning, supporters of their opponents have stepped up their opposition campaigns against the two, with Czapary being singled out as a “closet” Republican, an allegation he strongly denies.

Nadeau has pointed out that he did not become a registered Democrat until he filed for his candidacy for the Ward 1 Council seat earlier this year. Czapary says he has been a Democratic leaning independent based on his and his parents’ adherence to the Bahai faith, which shuns political parties.

He told the Blade his parents were far more accepting of him when he came out as gay than when he came out to them as a Democrat. But he said they understood his political beliefs were fully aligned with the Democratic Party.

Nadeau has also cited a Washington City Paper report in May that Czapary earlier this year named as his honorary campaign chairperson the son of a Trump supporter who was associated with a right-wing group that supported Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and that Trump was the true winner.

Czapary told the Blade he immediately dismissed Will Pack as his campaign chair after learning that Pack played a brief role with the ultra-conservative Claremont Institute. He said he met Pack when Pack was a volunteer firefighter and volunteer police officer at the time Czapary worked as a special assistant to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee.

“My team is very much rooted in the Democratic Party,” said Czapary. “My campaign manager is Steve Schwab who Speaker Pelosi has called an ‘incredible leader,’ who has run a dozen Democratic campaigns,” Czapary told the Blade. “My field director worked for Bernie Sanders and my committee leader worked on both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.”

Observers of the Ward 1 race say Czapary has a shot at winning but his campaign is facing the dilemma that a third candidate running for the Ward 1 seat, ANC Commissioner Sabel Harris, could take away just enough votes from Czapary to enable Nadeau to win with less than 50 percent of the vote, which is what happened when she won her re-election race in 2018.

Nadeau has said LGBTQ issues have been among her highest priorities since taking office in 2015. She told members of Capital Stonewall Democrats at an event for the group’s endorsed candidates last week that she would continue her role as a committed LGBTQ ally.  

The D.C. Board of Elections’ candidates list shows there are just six Republican candidates running in the city’s Republican primary, each of whom is running unopposed. There are no candidates running under the city’s two other political parties – the Statehood Green and Libertarian Party.

Following are the Republican Party candidates:
• DC Congressional Delegate – Nelson Rimensnyder
• DC Mayor – Stacia Hall
• DC Council Chair – Nate Derenge
• DC Council At-Large – Giuseppe Niosi
• DC Council Ward 3 – David Krucoff
• DC Council Ward 5 – Clarence Lee, Jr.
 
Rimensnyder, who has run for the congressional delegate seat in the past, has expressed support for LGBTQ rights. A spokesperson for Hall noted that Hall appeared as guest speaker at a recent meeting of D.C.’s LGBTQ Log Cabin Republicans group but did not provide information about Hall’s positions on specific LGBTQ issues.

Niosi and Krucoff and a small contingent of their supporters marched in the D.C. Capital Pride Parade on June 11. Lee couldn’t immediately be reached to determine his position on LGBTQ issues. Derenge, who ran as a GOP candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat in 2020, received a GLAA rating of -2 at that time.

Adam Savit, the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans president, said the group decided not to endorse any of the unopposed Republican candidates at this time. He said Log Cabin plans to hold a GOP candidate forum in the fall ahead of the November general election.

Longtime D.C. gay Democratic activist Earl Fowlkes, who serves as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBTQ Caucus, predicts there will be a low voter turnout and far fewer votes cast in the June 21 primary because this year is an “off year,” non-presidential election.

“With all the other things going on – the high gasoline prices and people trying to survive with the inflation, I don’t know if there is a lot of interest in this election,” he said. “And the people I talk to are not really focusing on the election very much because there are other issues they’re dealing with.”

If the voter turnout is low, Fowlkes said, it nearly always gives an advantage to the incumbents, prompting him to predict Mayor Bower, Council Chair Mendelson, and At-Large Council member Bonds will win their respective races.

Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a nonprofit trade association representing the city’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, including gay bars, said the operators of those establishments have not officially endorsed any candidates running in the June 21 primary. But Lee said many of them are individually backing candidates they feel understand the needs and concerns of their mostly small, neighborhood-based businesses.

“That’s why there is broad small business support across the District for the re-election of Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and At-Large Council member Anita Bonds,” Lee said. He said many nightlife business operators are also supporting Eric Goulet for the Ward 3 Council seat, Faith Gibson Hubbard for Ward 5 Council, and Salah Czapary for the Ward 1 Council seat.

GLAA ratings trigger controversy  

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), one of the city’s oldest LGBTQ organizations, last month issued candidate ratings that some critics say favor candidates with left-leaning progressive views unrelated to LGBTQ issues.

GLAA released a statement disputing those claims, saying the issues on which it based its ratings, such as decriminalization of sex work, reallocating funds from the police budget for violence prevention programs, and increased funding for programs for the homeless, will favorably impact LGBTQ people who are experiencing problems that some candidates have not adequately addressed. LGBTQ activists disagree over the impact the GLAA ratings will have on LGBTQ voters.

In the mayoral race, GLAA gave Robert White a rating of +9 out of the highest possible rating of +10. The group gave Bowser a rating of +6 and mayoral candidate Butler a +3 rating. Mayoral contender Trayon White received a “0” rating for failing to return a GLAA candidate questionnaire that the group requires of all candidates it rates. Under its rules, candidates that do not return a completed questionnaire receive an automatic “0” rating.

The group issues its ratings on a scale of +10, the highest rating, to -10, the lowest possible rating. GLAA did not issue ratings for the Congressional Delegate or shadow House seats or for any of the Republican candidates.

Following are GLAA’s candidate ratings:

D.C. Mayor
Robert White — +9
Muriel Bowser — +6
James Butler — +3
Trayon White – 0
 
D.C. Council Chair
Erin Palmer — +8
Phil Mendelson — +6
 
D.C. Council At-Large
Lisa Gore – +8.5
Anita Bonds — +6
Nate Fleming – +5.5
Dexter Williams – +4.5
 
D.C. Council Ward 1
Brianne Nadeau – +9.5
Sabel Harris – +6
Salah Czapary – +4
 
D.C. Council Ward 3
Beau Finley – +7
Deirdre Brown – +6.5
Phil Thomas – +5
Ben Bergmann – +4.5
Tricia Duncan – +4
Matt Frumin – +4
Henry Cohen – 0
Eric Goulet – 0
Monte Monash – 0
 
DC Council – Ward 5
Faith Gibson Hubbard – +7.5
Zachary Parker – +6.5
Gordon Fletcher – 0
Gary To-To Johnson – 0
Kathy Henderson – 0
Art Lloyd – 0
Vincent Orange [No rating given on ethics grounds]
 
D.C. Council Ward 6
Charles Allen — +8.5
 
Attorney General
Bruce Spiva — +6.5
Brian Schwalb — +6
Ryan Jones — +2.5
 
A breakdown of GLAA’s rating scores for each of the candidates and the candidates’ responses to the GLAA questionnaire can be accessed at glaa.org.

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District of Columbia

Matthew Shepard portrait dedicated at National Cathedral

Gay Wyoming student killed in 1998 hate crime honored in daylong ceremony

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Judy and Dennis Shepard stand in front of a portrait of their son, Matthew. Matthew Shepard was honored at a ceremony on Dec. 1, at Washington National Cathedral. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in a 1998 anti-gay hate crime while tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyo., was honored at a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 1, at Washington National Cathedral dedicating a newly commissioned portrait of Shepard.

Officials at the cathedral said the portrait by artist Kelly Latimore and commissioned by LGBTQ members of the Cathedral staff, is the only artistic image of Matthew Shepard created in collaboration with Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who were present during the ceremony.

Matthew Shepard’s ashes were interred at the Washington National Cathedral in 2018, 20 years after his death. The Cathedral announced in a statement this week that the Dec. 1 dedication of the Shepard portrait would also take place on what would have been Shepard’s 46th birthday.

A Thanksgiving and Celebration of Matthew Shepard service was held on October 26, 2018 at the Washington National Cathedral. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

“The horrific murders at Club Q in Colorado Springs are a tragic reminder that our LGBTQ friends and family continue to be targeted for who they love, and Matthew Shepard’s legacy reminds us of the urgency to confront bigotry and embrace people of all backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations,” said The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, in a statement.

Events surrounding the portrait dedication began with a 7 a.m. online prayer service “to celebrate and recall Matthew Shepard’s life,” the statement released by the Cathedral says. The service was led by Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

The Cathedral next hosted a preview of the portrait for the news media at 10:30 a.m., where Dennis and Judy Shepard talked about the portrait and their son’s life and the impact his death had on the nation’s understanding of hate crimes.

“It’s amazing how similar and what a great job that Kelly [Latimore] has done to make it look like Matt and showing the essence of Matt,” Dennis Shepard told the Washington Blade while viewing the portrait in the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where the portrait was on display.

Artist Latimore, who also spoke to reporters during the morning briefing at the chapel, said he was moved in his discussions with Judy and Dennis Shepard while getting ready to begin work on the painting by copies of dozens of letters they sent him that had been sent to the Shepards by people across the country after their son’s death.

Latimore included written excerpts from dozens of those letters as the background to his portrait of Matthew Shepard, which can be seen and read when standing close to the portrait.

Artist Kelly Latimore (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

“Matthew will not be forgotten,” an excerpt from one of the letters on the portrait says.
Dennis and Judy Shepard created the Matthew Shepard Foundation shortly after Matthew’s death, which has been credited with playing a lead role in advocating for the passage by Congress in 2009 of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The measure was the first federal hate crime statute that expanded the coverage of the federal hate crimes law to include a victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class.

President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act on Oct. 22, 2009. (Washington Blade archive photo by Michael Key)

The Cathedral was to open its St. Joseph’s Chapel from 2-5 p.m. on Thursday to visitors where the Matthew Shepard portrait was on display. Dennis and Judy Shepard were scheduled to be present to greet visitors.

According to the statement released by the Cathedral, later in the evening at 7 p.m., the portrait was to be officially dedicated in a private service in the Cathedral’s crypt near the site where Shepard’s ashes were interred.

“A longtime supporter of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the church, the Cathedral considers LGBTQ equality one of the great civil rights issues of the 21st century,” the statement released by the Cathedral says.

One of the two men charged with Matthew Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to a murder charge in exchange for an agreement by prosecutors not to seek a death sentence. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The other man charged in the murder, Aaron McKinney, pleaded not guilty and went to trial, where he was convicted of murder by a jury. In a dramatic statement before the judge at the conclusion of the trial, Dennis Shepard announced he and his wife had asked prosecutors and the judge to spare McKinney from being sentenced to death, something he said McKinney did not do while fatally striking his son in the head multiple times with the barrel of a gun after the two men tied him to a fence post in a remote field outside Laramie.

The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.

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District of Columbia

Three more LGBTQ ANC candidates declared winners

At least 38 LGBTQ hopefuls elected; outcome for two more uncertain

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There will be a special election to fill the seat of Kent Boese, who withdrew his candidacy but received the most votes.

The number of known LGBTQ candidates who won election to Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats rose from 35 to 38 as the D.C. Board of Elections this week released its final, certified vote count for the Nov. 8 D.C. election.

The 38 winners were among 44 known LGBTQ candidates who ran for ANC seats this year. One of the candidates who emerged as a winner, incumbent James Tandaric of ANC 3F05 in the city’s Van Ness neighborhood, was trailing opponent Andrew Koval by just eight votes when the early vote count was released in the days following the election.

The final vote count that emerged this week shows Tandaric beat Koval by a vote of 258 to 250.

When the early vote count was released in the week after the election, the outcome of four LGBTQ ANC write-in candidates along with all write-in candidates could not be determined until the Board of Elections received a required affidavit of candidacy from the write-in candidates, which was due by Nov. 15.

When the final write-in candidate results were released earlier this week along with the names of the write-in candidates, two of the four LGBTQ write-in candidates emerged as winners, both from the Logan Circle ANC. The two are Christopher Dyer of ANC 2F05 and Matt Fouracre of ANC 2F06.

Another one of the LGBTQ write-in candidates, Charles Panfil of ANC 6E02 in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, finished in a tie with another write-in candidate. A spokesperson for the Board of Elections said tie votes in ANC elections are resolved by the drawing of lots. The spokesperson, Nicholas Jacobs, said he couldn’t immediately say when a drawing of the lot would take place.

The race for the fourth LGBTQ write-in candidate, Bradley Gallagher of ANC 1E01 in the city’s Park View neighborhood, could not be determined and a special election for that seat will have to be held, according to the Board of Election. The reason, the elections board said, is longtime gay ANC member Kent Boese, who withdrew his candidacy after it was too late to remove his name from the ballot, received the most votes. “As such, there is no winner for this contest” under the city’s election law, the Board of Elections said.

Elections board spokesperson Jacobs said a special election for that ANC seat will be called, with Gallagher and others who obtain the required number of ballot petition signatures will be allowed to run in the special election.

Boese withdrew his candidacy after he was nominated and subsequently approved by the D.C. Council to become director of the D.C. Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

If Gallagher were to win in the special election and should Panfil win the drawing of the lot following the tie vote in his race, the total number of known LGBTQ candidates elected to ANC seats would rise to 40, a record number compared to past ANC elections.

There were 33 known LGBTQ ANC candidates who won election in 2020, which was the first year the Washington Blade kept track of the known LGBTQ ANC candidates who ran and won.

A list of the 35 winning LGBTQ ANC candidates known during the week following the Nov. 8 election can be seen here.

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District of Columbia

Ruby Corado withdrew $400,000 of Casa Ruby funds: D.C. att’y gen’l

Complaint says she transferred money to banks in El Salvador

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Ruby Corado faces new allegations after her organization collapsed earlier this year. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Office of the D.C. Attorney General on Monday filed an amended civil complaint in D.C. Superior Court against Casa Ruby and its founder and former executive director Ruby Corado that includes new allegations, including claims that Corado withdrew more than $400,000 of Casa Ruby funds for unauthorized use in El Salvador. 

The 25-page amended complaint adds multiple new allegations to the Attorney General office’s original complaint against Casa Ruby filed on July 29. That complaint, among other things, charged the nonprofit LGBTQ community services organization and Corado with violating the D.C. Nonprofit Corporations Act in connection with its financial dealings.

The amended complaint also follows the approval by D.C. Superior Court Judge Danya Dayson of a request in August by the Attorney General’s office to place Casa Ruby under receivership and to appoint the Wanda Alston Foundation as the receiver. The D.C.-based Alston Foundation provides housing services for homeless LGBTQ youth.

On Oct. 28, the Alston Foundation released its Receiver’s Second Interim Report on its findings related to Casa Ruby’s finances. The report points to some of the same unexplained and unauthorized expenditures and transfers of Casa Ruby’s funds by Corado that are included in the AG office’s amended complaint.

The Alston Foundation had been scheduled to release its Receiver’s Third Interim Report also on Monday, Nov. 28. But Alston Foundation Executive Director June Crenshaw told the Washington Blade the foundation requested an extension of that deadline to give it a chance to review the new allegations in the AG office’s amended complaint.

Among other things, the AG office’s amended complaint adds three new defendants to what legal observers say is the equivalent of a lawsuit by the D.C. government against Corado and Casa Ruby. The new defendants named in the complaint are limited liability companies created and controlled by Corado to purportedly perform services in support of Casa Ruby.

They include a new version of Casa Ruby called Casa Ruby LLC doing business as Moxie Health; Pneuma Behavioral Health LLC; and Tigloballogistics LLC doing business as Casa Ruby Pharmacy.

The amended complaint notes that Corado, who claimed the new companies, especially the pharmacy, were part of Casa Ruby’s mission, never received approval to create the companies from the Casa Ruby board of directors, which the AG’s office has said rarely met and failed to provide any oversight of Corado’s actions.

According to the amended complaint, Corado transferred large sums of money from the original Casa Ruby to these companies and at some point, transferred funds from the new companies to her own personal bank account.

Both the earlier complaint filed in July and the amended complaint allege that Corado transferred as much as $500,000 of Casa Ruby’s funds to create what she said was a new Casa Ruby in El Salvador approved by the Casa Ruby board. But the earlier and amended complaints allege that the board never authorized the El Salvador operation.

Between April 2021 and September 2022, the amended complaint says, Corado transferred over $400,000 from two Casa Ruby related accounts “to accounts she held under her birth name in two El Salvador banks.” It says the Casa Ruby board “never authorized any of these transfers.”

In addition to the financial related allegations, the amended complaint charges Casa Ruby and Corado with violating D.C.’s Wage Payment and Collection Law and the D.C. Minimum Wage Revision Act by failing to pay Casa Ruby employees all the wages they earned for their work several months before Casa Ruby closed its operations in July 2022.

“At various times between July 2021 and July 2022, while Corado was freely supplementing her $260,000 salary with additional funds drawn from Casa Ruby’s bank accounts, many of Casa Ruby’s employees were paid only $15.00 per hour, less than the minimum wage in the District of Columbia as of July 1, 2021,” the amended complaint says. “None of these employees received the full wages they earned,” it says.

One of the former employees told the Washington Blade most of the remaining employees during Casa Ruby’s final months before its shutdown were paid late or not paid at all. Under the two labor related laws the amended complaint has charged Casa Ruby and Corado with violating, an employer could be required to pay the employees any lost or missing wages.

But the Receiver’s Second Interim Report filed in October by the Alston Foundation says among other improper financial dealings, Casa Ruby failed to pay the U.S. Internal Revenue Service payroll taxes withheld from its employees. The AG office’s amended complaint says that as of June of this year, Casa Ruby owed the IRS $127,435 in employment taxes, not including interest and penalties.

The receiver’s report points out that under federal law, employers that owe back taxes to the IRS must pay those claims first. “Thus, after all outstanding payroll taxes have been paid off, there is little chance that there will be anything left for any other debts or obligations like past rent or wages,” the report says.

The amended complaint filed by the AG’s office says a copy of the amended complaint was sent to Corado through an email address, which has been the only known way of reaching Corado. Former Casa Ruby employees have said she had been spending most of her time over the past year or longer in El Salvador. The complaint says that as of October, Corado still had not retained an attorney to represent her and was representing herself in a process known as pro se representation.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Corado for comment on the amended complaint through the same email address.

During a virtual court hearing in September, Corado denied any improper or illegal financial practices and blamed the D.C. government for Casa Ruby’s collapse, saying city agencies cut off funding for Casa Ruby without a legitimate reason. However, the D.C. Department of Human Services, which provided much of Casa Ruby’s funding through grants, has said the funding was stopped after Casa Ruby failed to submit financial reports required for all grant recipients that account for how the grant money is spent.

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