The California Democrat known for honoring porn actress Stormy Daniels has stepped down as mayor of West Hollywood amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments.
John Duran, 59, announced on social media earlier this week that he had relinquished his mayoral title, citing health concerns related to blood clots in his legs. The position is mostly a ceremonial role that rotates between the five councilmembers every year. Duran said he will not resign from the City Council and will complete his current term, which expires in November 2020.
“I continue to work with my doctors to try and get my blood and body in the right balance,” Duran wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I am supposed to slow down to half speed and rest for the next 30 days. I was in the hospital for one week and that did help me slow down since I couldn’t get very far with an IV in my arm.”
At a City Council meeting held hours after Duran ceded the mayoral position, his peers placed several restrictions on his municipal duties moving forward. According to WEHOville, they asked the city attorney to draft a resolution censuring Duran that will be considered at a future meeting, and:
The Council eventually voted unanimously to deny Duran the right to travel on city business at city expense for one year, to deny him reimbursement for city-related expenses for one year and to remove him from a subcommittee appointed to oversee the city’s involvement with Christopher Street West, the non-profit that hosts the annual L.A. Pride event. It also asked the City Manager or someone under his purview to review Duran’s official emails and to sit in on any meetings Duran has with an employee at City Hall, an apparent response to allegations that Duran has made inappropriate comments to city employees.
The progressive politician has been an elected official in West Hollywood since 2001 and has built a reputation of impropriety.
A former City Hall subordinate of Duran’s received a $500,000 out-of-court settlement in 2016 after suing him for sexual harassment. Last year, Duran proclaimed May 23, 2018 “Stormy Daniels Day” in West Hollywood in recognition of the porn actress’ contributions to resist efforts targeting President Donald J. Trump.
Duran has publicly speculated that Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and condemned the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming he “sexually assaulted a teenage girl.”
Now, Duran finds himself at the wrong end of the finger of suspicion. He has called for due process to be followed, urging constituents to refrain from jumping to conclusions.
Recent controversies include singers from a gay choir accusing Duran of sliding his hand down their underpants, a racially insensitive characterization of an Asian man, and alleged sexually inappropriate comments at a city-sponsored anti-Trump event. Councilmembers had unanimously voted last month to shorten Duran’s mayoral term, which was scheduled to end in September, by four months.
“I am the one everyone perceives as the mayor all of the time…no matter who’s holding the gavel at any one moment,” Duran told KNX Radio two weeks ago, explaining that his lewd public persona has evolved from decades of activism on behalf of the gay community.
“The reality is over the years I’ve spent 40 years fighting for LGBT rights,” he continued. “That’s longer than some of the other council member have been alive.”
“Let’s face it. I’m the only, I think, sexually active member of the City Council. I don’t want to besmirch my colleagues, but I mean, I don’t think any of them are having the level of activity I am.”
Several Los Angeles-based activist groups, including Black Lives Matter, have condemned Duran’s alleged conduct while attempting to tie him to Ed Buck, a white, Democratic donor who resides in a West Hollywood apartment where two black men have died of suspected drug overdoses on separate occasions. Duran, who is also a criminal defense attorney, previously served as a lawyer to Buck but has not represented him in matters related to those deaths. Buck has contributed $14,000 to Duran’s political campaigns, according to WEHOville.
Duran’s surrendered mayoral term will be filled by John D’Amico. According to the latest update by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, D’Amico was re-elected to the City Council on Tuesday by just 259 votes. D’Amico’s narrow margin of victory has been partly attributed to voter confusion over his name’s similarity to that of Duran.
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @JeffreyCawood.