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San Diego Democrats stood by labor leader amid sexual misconduct allegation, got $10K the next day

Joshua Stewart, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Some Democratic officeholders and candidates, however, have said that they would not accept support from an organization if Kasparian is at its helm.

Jessica Hayes, chairwoman of the San Diego Democratic Party, said UFCW 135 was asked for a contribution well before questions of Kasparian's attendance record were raised and it was just a coincidence that the contribution arrived a day after she determined Kasparian hadn't violated any rules and that he could remain on the party's Central Committee.

"In early August, we invited numerous organizations to sponsor our County Convention in October," she said in a statement.

The controversy over Kasparian's status in the party began last year as the labor leader fought two lawsuits filed in late 2016. In one case Isabel Vasquez alleged Kasparian pressured her into a sexual relationship while she worked for him at Local 135. Kasparian has denied her allegations. That case was settled in January.

In the other complaint, Sandy Naranjo said she was fired from Local 135 in retaliation for a political stance taken by her husband's rival union. Kasparian denies those allegations as well. That case is ongoing.

In December Kasparian was sued a third time. In her complaint, Melody Godinez said that Kasparian groped her several times, once tried to get her to participate in group sex and, in one instance, pinned her to his sofa in his office. Kasparian denies those allegations and the case is ongoing.

 

Kasparian resigned from the Central Committee after the details of the third lawsuit were reported and said on a Facebook post that he was busy with union duties. He did not reference the allegations.

But back in September, a group of Democrats who were concerned about the lawsuits' allegations noticed that Kasparian missed seven meetings he was supposed to attend.

The party's rules say that members who miss three consecutive meetings or four over a calendar year are assumed to have resigned.

Seeing a way to expel the labor leader from the party's Central Committee on a technicality -- rather than having to address the allegations in the lawsuits -- Ricardo Ochoa, a Democratic activist, raised the attendance issue with the party's leadership, according to an email obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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