A letter from Cleve Jones to The Victory Fund

I've always enthusiastically supported the core principles of the Victory Fund, but it seems this group has lost its way. Shame on the Victory Fund for attacking one of our greatest Bay Area allies. This letter to the CEO of the Victory Fund from long time activist Cleve Jones says it all. Dear Chuck:

As you know, I have respected both you and the Victory Fund for many years. That respect was seriously undermined by your foolish and reprehensible attack on San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera this past week. I am appalled that this scurrilous attack, in the waning days of a mayoral campaign, would go out to the San Francisco electorate under the name of the Victory Fund.

Many of us were puzzled by the Victory Fund's decision to back former Supervisor Bevan Dufty's campaign for Mayor. A long-shot at best, political insiders have speculated for months that Dufty's campaign was nothing more than a cynical ploy to siphon off LGBT votes from Dennis Herrera, the leading challenger to Mayor Ed Lee.

According to published accounts, the Victory Fund's endorsement of Dufty was pushed by Joyce Newstat, a lesbian political consultant with strong ties to former Mayor Gavin Newsom and Bevan Dufty. As you know, Ms. Newstat has held leadership positions with the Victory Fund for many years and continues to serve on one of your boards.

Ms. Newstat's consulting firm has received at least $15,000 in payments from Bevan Dufty, raising what seems to be a clear conflict of interest issue. When Ms. Newstat was using her influence within your organization to secure the endorsement for Dufty, did she disclose that he was one of her clients? How many of your board members have similar conflicts or ties to the corporate interests that seek to keep Mayor Lee in power?

While Ms. Newstat's apparent conflict of interest is disturbing, far more troubling is the damage done to the Victory Fund's credibility as a result of your attack on City Attorney Herrera. Dennis has been a strong ally for LGBT equality throughout his career. He is the only candidate for Mayor endorsed by both of San Francisco's LGBT Democratic clubs. He is also one of the architects of the national campaign for marriage equality. Dennis is endorsed by LGBT pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Wayne Friday and by Bevan Dufty's successor on the Board of Supervisors, Scott Wiener. Surely the Victory Fund's mission to elect openly LGBT candidates does not include a smear campaign against one of our strongest (and most effective) straight allies. You really screwed up, Chuck, and I am not alone in my anger.

You must apologize to Dennis Herrera and the LGBT community of San Francisco. You must send that apology and a retraction to every voter who received your nasty hit piece, before election day. Ms. Newstat must resign from your board.

If you do not take the above actions, I fear that the damage to your organization and your personal reputation will be long lasting and severe.


Cleve Jones