By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner
For the past few years the man who would be San Diego’s highest elected official has been leading a bifurcated life.
In public, Carl DeMaio remains a populist avatar of fiscal rectitude and righteous tea-party values. In private, DeMaio is now the live-in mate of the publisher of San Diego Gay and Lesbian News and SD Pix magazine, Jonathan Hale. This partner is a controversial and successful videographer and photo cataloguer of social and party events in the gay community, a go-to man.
This is not a casual relationship. Carl DeMaio and his partner have shared ‘promise rings.’ They share DeMaio’s home in Rancho Bernardo.
It’s fair to ask whether the domestic details, background, and activities of a candidate and his/her live-in mate should be revealed to voters. If they are public figures the answer is clearly Yes. History tells us that domestic partners of politicians often have significant influence over their mates’ decisions and careers. Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Mandy and Nathan Fletcher. George W. and Laura Bush. The Clintons. Ike and Mamie Eisenhower. Nancy Reagan and Ronald. Standards apply to gay and straight couples alike, in national, state, or local office.
In a Facebook photo, DeMaio’s partner is shown lounging in a city council office while the council member is upstairs at a council meeting. The LGBT Weekly asks an important question: “In addition to what role Johnathan Hale would play as San Diego’s first “first gentleman” to a gay mayor, is the question of how sound are Councilman DeMaio’s powers of judgment?” The article points out that the “photo…depicts Hale seated at a table in the councilman’s conference room. On the table is a folder labeled ‘confidential.’ It’s impossible to know what the envelope contains. But it is possible to ask how appropriate it is for a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend of an elected official to have easy access to sensitive information in the official’s office.”
A May 24th article in the LGBT Weekly discloses other equivocal information about the checkered past of DeMaio’s live-in partner: “As LGBT Weekly has confirmed, it is a story that includes alleged violence, admitted theft, burglary, as well as multiple name changes and restraining orders against Hale (filed against him by former “roommates” for domestic violence).”
If his troubled past were cleanly behind him, that might be the end of it. But current public accounts tell a different story of DeMaio’s partner, who has been called out by Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a well-known leader in the community, as a “pit bull of negativity, ugliness and pettiness…a snake.”
Norma Damashek is a long-time civic activist and past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. She publishes her own blog, NumbersRunner.
Readers take note: Sex, lies, and videotape is a 3-part commentary. Part One can be read here. Part Three will be published tomorrow.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, Norma Damashek, a contributor to the San Diego Free Press. Various members of the SDFP’s core staff have expressed concerns over the characterizations of Mr. Hale in the piece, and for the most part the members of our editorial board share those concerns to varying extents. The issues that Ms. Damashek raise regarding Carl DeMaio’s close association (domestic partnership) with Mr. Hale are valid, however, in that should Mr. DeMaio become the duly elected mayor of San Diego, Mr. Hale would no doubt have an outsized influence with the top public official of our city. Questions about his character, in that case, are entirely valid, as they could have a serious and potentially detrimental effect on public policy. Ms. Damashek is not the first writer to express concerns over Mr. DeMaio’s association with Mr. Hale, but we would have preferred that she had further justified those concerns by discussing in greater detail questions regarding Mr. Hale’s background.