LOS ANGELES: On June 19, this writer posted Part I of an exposé on how San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting made use of an extramarital affair with Carmel Foster to craft key legislation. Just days after, news outlets from the San Francisco Examiner to ChineseinLA.com covered the story as well. And the story continued to have legs.
It soon moved out of the Sacramento / San Francisco bubble and into Los Angeles, where LA Weekly covered it on July 10.
The usual progressive media spin begins.
Sadly, these publications attempted to create a false narrative claiming that the matter was only an affair. Thus, it had nothing to do with Ting’s legislative work. Because the media see Ting as a progressive darling and champion, and also a friend of Governor Gavin Newsom, they must protect his legislation and what it represents at all costs. So they continue with a concerted effort to take the focus off any ethical considerations of Ting’s behavior and deny any pattern of legislative abuse.
Getting back to the real story: how an affair affected the legislative work of Phil Ting
To reiterate, in Part III of this series (June 25), this writer stated the following.
“Ting not only did not mention Carmel Foster by name, but he also denies the affair affected his legislative work. Sadly, affairs are a dime a dozen in the political world. Indiscretions will not permanently derail one’s political future in the Democrat party. #MeToo be damned.
“On the other hand, an ethics investigation could not only undo a career trajectory but could undo the legislation that has been passed into law because of those ethical failures.”
After Part III’s publication, Carmel Foster and this writer have been active in keeping the need for an ethics investigation into Assemblyman Phil Ting in the forefront.
Due to Covid-19 concerns, the California Legislature suspended sessions on June 27. So it appeared that any action toward an investigation would be stalled, if not stymied.
Countering the traditional media spin
Despite the Legislature’s initial dismissal of the charges and traditional media’s attempt to skew the story’s perspective, the good citizens of California chose to rise up and say, “No More.”
- On June 29, a group of independent contractors and gig workers organized by political activist Brittany Sheehan held a press conference at the California State Capitol. Conference organizers asked Carmel Foster and this writer to attend and become a part of this event.
- Ms. Sheehan, along with rideshare driver Judah Bell, Carmel Foster, and 9 others also signed a letter calling for an investigation of Assemblyman Ting and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez for ethics violations based on this writer’s 3-part exposé.
- In early July, members of the Freelancers Against AB5 Facebook group and many others called the Legislative offices and also wrote to Speaker Rendon, Ethics Chair Luz Rivas, and other Assemblymembers demanding an ethics investigation into Ting.
- On July 19, Carmel Foster filed online ethics claims against both Ting and Gonzalez.
Grassroots efforts may be having an effect
On July 27, the Legislature resumed their sessions in Sacramento. On July 30, CalMatters dropped an article that gives hope that our grassroots activism has established a footprint.
“The Legislature has referred complaints about Ting to the new workplace conduct unit that was formed after the #MeToo reckoning, said Assembly administrator Debra Gravert.”
The government created the workplace conduct unit in 2018 after the #MeToo movement gained steam across the nation. The unit’s primary task involves assessing complaints by or against legislative employees and elected lawmakers. Subsequently, a member of an affiliated panel determines whether to investigate the complaint.
The CalMatters article also provided additional information on claims against Phil Ting.
“Another request to investigate Ting was sent to the California Democratic Party by a former delegate, who shared her complaint with CalMatters. But party chairman Rusty Hicks said that as far as he knows, an investigation has not begun. The party’s new process for investigating claims of misconduct was formed after several members accused former chair Eric Bauman of abuse.”
The chance for a real investigation remains alive
Thanks to Carmel Foster and the brave men and women previously mentioned, there is now a chance that an investigation might actually happen. The fact that a former delegate of the Democrat Party also requested that authorities investigate Ting’s behavior constitutes a huge step in the right direction.
In this exceptionally crazy and confusing year, everyone from Governor Newsom to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti routinely exploits the Covid-19 crisis to suppress the truth and avoid doing the right thing. But there appears to be a ray of moral sanity beaming through the immoral morass.
On July 9, this writer was a guest on a Facebook Townhall segment hosted by Melanie Burkholder, California 76th District Republican Assembly candidate. (Video cannot be embedded due to owner blocks).
In my conversation with Ms. Burkholder, I laid out the reasons why we need to hold our leaders accountable now, more than ever. I also charted the reasons why no one should categorize Ting’s behavior as “just an affair.”
Assemblyman Ting’s use of “What’s Your Price?” to catfish Carmel Foster while using another Assemblymember’s picture to cover his identity; plus the mere optics of trolling for sexual opportunities while in the State Capitol on State business should have served as grounds for his removal from committee assignments at the very least.
Questions and more questions need real answers
But additional key questions hang in the balance.
- Why does Foster’s wage-theft claim and personal work story with the Silicon Valley couple William and Maria Roelandts match up with the intent and text of AB2314? Was it mere coincidence that Ting wrote this legislation while mining her for information on her work life in the midst of their sexual dalliance? Or was this the focused intent?
- How did Foster happen to get on the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance radar? How could Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez not know it was a conflict of interest to have Foster testify in support of her AB5 bill while Foster was sleeping with Assemblyman Ting?
More text messages revealed
Last week, Foster chose to share with this writer additional text messages exchanged between her and Ting in 2016. As indicated within the text thread below, it seems Ting also had another account on “What’s Your Price?” where he used a picture of someone appearing to be Jon Gosselin of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” fame, at the same time he was using 55th District Assemblyman’s Phillip Chen’s photo.
In these texts, there is also mention of Ting having “lifetime credits” on the site.
More on the text trail
The What’s Your Price? website earns money when the user’s pay for credits to unlock a match and continue the conversation with that match. If Asm. Phil Ting did indeed have lifetime credits, he either paid a hefty sum of money for these credits, or he has been on the site for quite some time.
This new information poses whether a possible investigation into Ting’s ethical moorings is appropriate. It certainly begs the question: is this the type of person you want to make judgments about the California budget, let alone key legislation?
The writer contacted Assemblyman Ting’s office concerning the newly revealed texts as well as the questions above. Ting’s chief of staff simply re-sent the wording of Ting’s June 20 Twitter apology to his family and constituents. When this writer requested clarification on the use of lifetime credits on “What’s Your Price?”, the use of the different photo and Foster’s online ethics claim against the Assemblyman, the chief of staff replied:
A spark of hope for justice…
Long before his 1964 commencement speech at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in a 1958 Gospel Messenger piece¹:
“Justice will not fail, though wickedness appears strong, and has on its side the armies and thrones of power, the riches and the glory of the world, and though poor men crouch down in despair. Justice will not fail and perish out from the world of men, nor will what is really wrong and contrary to God’s real law of justice continually endure.”
This writer and others will continue to stay abreast on whether an investigation into Asm. Ting’s behavior does happen. If it does, the implications for the application of justice, and a sea change in the way Sacramento does business could be huge.
- 1958 February 8, The Gospel Messenger, Out of the Long Night by Martin Luther King, Jr., Start Page 3, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Official Organ of the Church of the Brethren, Published weekly by the General Brotherhood Board, Elgin, Illinois.
— Headline image: Screenshot of website cover; official portrait of Ting. Carmel Foster image supplied by Foster.