LOS ANGELES — The No on Government Waste Committee on Monday called on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to remove a new TV ad that it calls "misleading, erroneous" and that "violates state election law" in the fight over Measure B, the so-called “Safer Sex” initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot in Los Angeles County.
“This ad featuring Derrick Burts and Darren James does not disclose that both men were well-compensated by AHF for their appearances, nor does the disclaimer meet state requirements for information, location and size in order to allow voters to be properly informed,” said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. “If AHF does not remove this ad, nor make the necessary corrections, our only alternative is to file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission and force them to abide by the law.”
Lee claimed that Derrick Burts had previously been in discussions with the No on Government Waste Committee seeking compensation of $10,000 in order to not appear in any AHF ads and campaign materials.
“Mr. Burts had previously been in discussions with us in order to be paid $10,000 by the opponents to Measure B. Even though he agreed to the amount and be paid, the Committee eventually decided not to complete the agreement, nor make any payments,” Lee said. “Burts had disclosed to us that AHF had previously paid approximately $7,500 for his support and he indicated he wanted more money.”
Lee also claimed the Committee had also been informed that Darren James had been compensated by AHF and that AHF had approached other performers. James and Burts both spoke on behalf of AHF at a press conference Monday, when the AHF's "Yes on Measure B" campaign was announced, along with their TV ad.
“It’s worth asking if AHF can find a single performer who has not been paid by them to come forward and be a passionate advocate for a measure that taxpayers and the business community, especially outside of the adult entertainment industry, are beginning to seriously question,” Lee said. “This is an industry that requires the latest PCR/RNA Aptima testing for every performer, as well as screening for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. It subsidizes those tests for performers and aggressively pursues notifications, retesting and treatment whenever there is a positive test.”
Lee also cited a need for the FPPC, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the California Office of AIDS and the California Department of Public Health to open up inquiries into AHF’s use of funds for political purposes.
“The taxpayers of California and the voters, not to mention the thousands of AIDS and HIV patients being served by AHF have a right to know what funds AHF is tapping to pay for initiative qualifications, paying for endorsements and spending for pricey ad campaigns at a time when the state and county health systems are extremely underfunded,” Lee said. “State election law and the rules of the grant awards AHF has received from the government make clear that taxpayer dollars are not to be used for political purposes. And if AHF is making the claim that these ads are part of its AIDS education mandate, then all references to Measure B are to be erased and media advisories and press releases and press events should make no mention of it.”
Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and create a system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges it does not know if permitting fees would be adequate to fund the program’s long-term costs.
According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers who did not contract the disease on-set, according to adult industry trade group, Free Speech Coalition (FSC).
Since 2004, FSC said there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set. With the industry’s strict testing protocols – requiring testing at least every 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation, according to FSC.