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WEST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

VENTURA : AIDS Panel Member Refuses to Resign

December 16, 1993|PATRICK McCARTNEY

The executive committee of a countywide group that distributes federal funding for AIDS health care has asked one of its members to resign, accusing her of making false statements to the public and a local congressman.

The Ventura County HIV Care Consortium notified Claire Connelly, president of the Gay and Lesbian Resource Center in Camarillo, that the executive committee voted unanimously Dec. 6 to ask for her resignation.

But Connelly said Tuesday that she will refuse to resign from the consortium. She characterized the request from the group's executive committee as an attempt to silence her criticism of the funneling of public AIDS health funding to gay organizations.

"I have been fighting to keep the gay rights campaign out of the AIDS support movement," Connelly said.

But Edie Brown, who chairs the consortium that this year distributed nearly $200,000 in federal funds to private and public agencies serving Ventura County acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients and people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, said the move to oust Connelly was the culmination of a long-running feud.

"It's been something that was brewing for a long time," Brown said. Connelly "stepped over the line by going to our congressman with a number of distortions and misstatements of fact," she said.

The feud focuses on a letter Connelly sent to Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) in November that accused Brown of improperly receiving money from the consortium as the director of AIDS Care Inc.

In a written statement, Brown denied misusing money from the consortium, which she said is distributed by an independent allocation board.

"She's finally stepped over the line, threatening not just the integrity of the consortium but its funding," Brown said, referring to the complaint to Gallegly, who could influence the group's federal funding.

The matter has been placed on the agenda for the consortium's 22 members to discuss Jan. 5, but Connelly said she will be out of the state on that date.

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