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By Shawn Raymundo

Special election candidate Gene James, one of the apparent frontrunners in the race for San Clemente’s vacant city council seat, is facing a litany of accusations from an ex-girlfriend who has circulated emails that call the candidate’s character into question.

In emails sent out to members of the community and the San Clemente Times, Diane Parker, who said she was briefly engaged to James in 2005, detailed several accounts that paint James as a reported tax delinquent who apparently ignored court summonses and allegedly made disparaging remarks to and about members of the LGBTQ community.

Speaking by phone with SC Times, James acknowledged having a relationship with Parker, but said he has “no idea what she’s talking about” in the emails and has “no recollection of threatening anyone.”

“I don’t recall anything of that nature,” he said when asked if he could explain his side of the accounts laid out in Parker’s email, the contents of which have been spread throughout social media and shared in blog posts by 

Litigation with Former Employer

According to Parker, the two met online through back in 2003 and got engaged around 2005. It was around 2004, Parker claims, that she found out James’ former employer, AVI Food Systems, an Ohio-based food service company, had filed a suit against him in December 2003.

According to the complaint filed with Cuyahoga County Court in Ohio, AVI agreed to lend James $49,000 in September 2000. The court filing also states that James had agreed to repay the loan within 30 calendar days of his termination.

By August 2001, James had a remaining balance of $24,400 on the loan, according to the court document. Around that time, James and AVI amended the terms of the agreement, with James allowing his then-employer to garnish $100 from his “remaining payroll checks and through the 13 weeks of certain agreed-upon severance pay.”

Those deductions reduced James’ debt to $22,800. Afterward, the complaint stated, James was to make weekly payments of $100 until the loan was paid off.

James, the defendant, “did not make any of these weekly payments to AVI,” the court filing notes.

On April 21, 2004—after James had failed to appear in court—the Ohio judge handed down a judgement ordering James to pay $28,141 plus a 10% annual interest.

James said he wasn’t aware of AVI’s lawsuit, nor the judgement, until Parker’s emails were recently published in the blog post, as he said he was already living in San Diego at the time. He also said he didn’t have a comment on the topic other than to state that he has a lawyer looking into it.

“I had just learned about the case . . . when this blogger published it,” he said. “I looked into it, and I have a lawyer investigating at this time.”

As to why James asked his former employer for a loan, he stated, “It was a personal matter.”

When SC Times reached out to AVI to comment on the lawsuit and provide details as to why it sued James, the company said it didn’t have a record of the litigation in its files, because it was a 15-year-old case.

The Ohio court records show that the company filed a motion to revive the judgement in June 2010, because the judgement remained “unsatisfied” and “no execution on this judgement has been taken in the last five years.” The revival of judgement prompted a series of summonses to be mailed to James’ known addresses requiring that he appear in court.

“I have a lawyer looking into that,” James later said of the matter. “It’s an ongoing legal matter. Until I have advice from my lawyer, I’m not going to comment on that.”

Gene James, who’s currently running to fill the open seat on the San Clemente City Council, is facing a firestorm of criticism from an ex-girlfriend, who has circulated detailed accounts of incidents intended to question his character. Photos: Shawn Raymundo

Delinquent Taxes

In Parker’s email, she also referenced James’ tax debt with the IRS. A federal tax lien document she has shared from 2012 shows that James reportedly owed nearly $300,000 in unpaid taxes from 2002 through 2009.

“I’m not going to get into my personal taxes with you, but my taxes have been paid and have been fully for quite some time,” James said, responding to the SC Times’ question regarding the tax lien. He then explained that his tax debt accumulated after his divorce from his first wife.

“This was in the wake of a divorce; this was in the wake of taking care of my children. I had about $6,000 per month in child support and alimony, and about $5,000 per month in required court-ordered tuition to pay for my children,” he said. “And, yes, I got behind in my taxes, and my taxes have been paid. . . . My taxes have been paid in full—the interest, the penalties, paid in full.”

Dixie’s Story

One of Parker’s most startling accusations is about an alleged incident that occurred in 2005, when she threw a party at her home that featured Dixie Longate, the stage name of an entertainer in drag who sells Tupperware.

According to Parker, James had arrived home during the party, and was visibly upset, slamming doors throughout the house, making guests, including Dixie, feel uncomfortable.

“Several women stayed behind until Gene appeared to settle down, and they were able to escort Dixie out safely,” Parker said in the email. “He later tracked down Dixie Longate, contacting him through emails and phone calls, threatening to physically harm and/or kill him.”

Dixie, who asked to be referred to as his stage name in order to speak candidly on the matter, corroborated the event, telling SC Times that although he didn’t recall James ever saying anything directly to him at the party, it was apparent that James’ alleged tirade was over Dixie’s presence.

“To my recollection, he didn’t say anything to me; it wasn’t until I got home to the emails,” Dixie said, later adding: “There was a definite sense that he didn’t want me there, and for safety, they wanted to get me out of there.”

James said he doesn’t remember such an incident occurring.

“I don’t recall anything like that,” James said, later adding: “I don’t even know what that’s about. I don’t recall something like that, threatening her or him, but it was nothing like that. Again, 16 years ago, I have no idea what my interaction with this person would have been.”

The emails James allegedly sent to Dixie, who provided copies of them to SC Times, show a bitter exchange between Dixie and a—an email address James denies ever owning.

The emails, which SC Times has been unable to confirm were written by James, include threatening and homophobic language directed at Dixie, calling him a “freak of nature,” as well as other derogatory names referring to the entertainer’s gender identity.

In the exchange, the account starts by blaming Dixie for being the cause of James and Parker breaking off their engagement. And it concludes with the emailer disparaging the LGBTQ community outright.

City council candidate Gene James, left, responds to a question during an election forum held at the San Clemente Community Center on Sept. 15. Seated beside James is one of his opponents in the race, Jackson Hinkle. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

Pushing Back

In defense of the charges Parker has made and publicized about him, James points out that he’s never been arrested, nor committed an illegal act.

“I have never been convicted of a crime,” he told SC Times. “This is nothing more than politics, and a personal matter being brought forth by someone that, at the very least, is very vindictive.”

The city council candidate also called out his accuser’s own character, pointing to her legal troubles back in the late 1990s, when her ex-husband, Richard Wayne Parker, a former agent with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, was on trial for drug trafficking.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ extensive reporting, Richard Parker of San Clemente was sentenced in January 2000 to life in prison “for masterminding the biggest drug theft from a California police agency.”

During the highly publicized trial, it was revealed that Richard Parker had led a double life, keeping cash he had secretly accumulated from Diane Parker, as well as from a mistress in Newport Beach.

Upon learning of her then-husband’s mistress, Diane Parker, who at the time was a retired Orange County sheriff’s deputy, drove to the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement office in Orange to confront the woman who allegedly had been having an affair with Richard Parker.

That confrontation, the LA Times reported, led to Diane Parker being charged with assault and battery. That charge, however, was later dropped.

Those legal issues, James told the SC Times, are what led to his breakup with Diane Parker.

“I ended our relationship, because I had concerns about that; she was arrested for assaulting a state employee on state property,” James said.

According to James, Parker has “harassed” him for the past 15 years by forwarding her allegations to previous employers.

“Two institutions that I have taught at, Ms. Parker has made those allegations (to them), and each of those institutions investigated those allegations, and each time these allegations were found to be baseless,” James said.

As of press time, Parker had not responded to an SC Times request to comment on James’ accusations against her, nor on the legal matters involving her ex-husband.

James is one of five candidates currently seeking the open seat on the San Clemente City Council. The city’s special election, which is being held to fill the position left behind by the late Mayor Steve Swartz, will be decided on Nov. 5.

SR_1Shawn Raymundo
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.

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comments (23)

  • Shawn, please investigate the allegations of James “gassing” homeless men back in April by backing up his truck to tents at North Beach and idling and revving the engine for up to 15 minutes. There are photos, there are victims and witnesses who will corroborate, and there is someone to whom James admitted the behavior. There was also a police report filed. I also have video which proves he, on another occasion, intimidated and mocked homeless men, including one who is “mentally and physically disabled” (the man’s own words), and the other who is a senior and a veteran.

    The allegations in this article, and his pathetic response to them, should be enough to have people wanting to take back their vote, and/or vote for anyone but him, but his behavior toward vulnerable people is, to me, the most abhorrent.

    • So Maura are parking lot not for parking anymore? you bring homeless to north beach and tell them to set up camp and are pissed why people actually use the parking lot for PARKING and DRIVING? Shut up and go away

      • The parking lot incident and the photographs that have been well circulated don’t show Mr. James using the parking lot like a normal person. In conjunction with witness statements, They show him clearly back up his truck up into a tent and gassing the humans inside it. Please don’t spread lies out here. You’re not helping anybody.

    • Maura, stop. With your constant harassment of San Clemente, you and your friends have cost its taxpaying residents unfathomable amounts of money that could have been used for resources for all citizens instead of cleaning up of waste (including human), destruction of property, and litigation. There is plenty of pictures and video of you enabling those very gentleman (non-local, recent arrivals) you mention in your comment that sued the City for not providing them the care they felt they were entitled to when they made the choice to bicycle here or be brought and dumped here. The “veteran” you speak of was offered services, he refused and again made another choice to EXPECT services from SC residents …. many of which are struggling themselves to keep roofs over their own heads, yet somehow are being told by you that they are responsible now to also take care of those that you have assisted in compromising once safe spaces. Many have refused to take care of themselves and instead engage in illegal activities throughout the City, adding burden after burden to SC residents.
      There is another veteran, Gene James, in this scenario that has been involved for years in the community working to maintain the safety of SC residents – he deserves more respect than this.
      This article is one of the worst, biased pieces of “journalism” I have ever read. Wish I could get my time back from it. Anyone can make up any of this. Years old, one-sided information. Although there is evidence to dispute much of that written. Mr. James has personally addressed this throughout the last few weeks. But that information has been conveniently left out.

  • Last minute smear—just like they did to Dan Bane last election. Politics is so dirty even at the local level. There is corruption at city hall that’s just beginning to come out. Backing a 20 year old with zero life experience and only a high school education speaks volumes. Get a clue San Clemente and use your common sense!

  • Congrats SC Times….You are now lower than the National Enquirer, you print a he said she said hit piece against a candidate who is able to pass federal background / credit checks and has higher security clearance than 99% of this town so if this was all true how would he?

    Funny you didn’t post the Facebook posts of Hinkle where HE wrote in his own words, the OCSD encourage a system that was designed to oppress and kill people, or where he wrote he supports legalizing all drug use and legalizing prostitution. Which as a women I am so offended that this 20yr old man child think women want to be prostitutes, women are only prostitute themselves because they feel they have no other options, drug use or a man is behind it forcing them. But Hinkle thinks women would love to be prostitutes. How about the fact he says he brought Solar to the High School, when its come out he not only didn’t bring it to the HS he wasn’t he wasn’t even on the team that worked on it. Or how about that he said he started the fight against the TollRoad. The women who started the fight two years into it asked Hinkle if he could get a group of student to show up for a TCA meeting, other than that one time, he has not been involved until he decided to run and has since has only attended one more meeting. If Hinkle was spearheading the fight against the tollroad we would already be driving on it. And lastly lets get to the homeless problem. Hinkle claims to be against a regional shelter in SC for the campaign, but at the OC Dem Women group meeting all they talked about was getting Hinkle elected than making SC the Regional Shelter for South OC. Hinkle has admitted on his Facebook post to support allowing the homeless to camp where ever they want, he supports a shelter and PSH housing in residential neighborhoods. Hinkle is courting the support by the same group that sued SC for 900K and won, the same group that is trying to build a private, for profit shelter on Pico that will allow drug, alcohol and a open campus with in a 5 min walk of our high school. The same group that has stated they will give land to the county to make the Shelter Regional and which will allow the County to bring the tollroad through SC.

    Again congrats SC Times you have given up being a actual newspaper and to the reporter I hope you were paid for your time.

  • Seems democrats have a well established track records of making accusations . MAYBE THEY SHOULD LOOK IN THE MIRROR FOR REAL CORRUPTION. AN COVER UPS

  • There is something way wrong with this fellow. If you discovered all of this stuff in a job interview, you’d never hire him. I feel sorry for the few folks who endorsed him and never knew the truth about him. This is a very troubling history. The last place he needs to be is on anyone’s city council.

    • There certainly would be something wrong with a job interview that includes emails from old girlfriends from 15 years ago, that’s for sure. Or comedians who won’t use their real name. With 20 years in the military, 20 years in corporate security, 15 years in nonprofit governance, and currently teaching at a junior college, I don’t think Mr. James would have any trouble getting a job. That is, unless the potential employer mistook this “Opinion Piece” for actual journalism.

      • Wrong

        If a real job interview uncovered disturbing statements like were uncover here, and Coroberated by other witnesses like here, and harassment of the transsexual dancer, replete with provable information, likely any decent company would not make the hire. Given his record of lawsuits and civil judgments it’s hard to understand how he did keep a job. But thanks for playing.

  • So our “journalist” lists as his “sources” a woman who has refused to be interviewed and a man who refuses to use his real name? What a precedent you have set for the SC Times. Can anyone write an email full of a mixture of rants and allegations and our “journalist” will quickly put it to print? I only had to spend about 30 minutes on Google researching Ms. Parker’s history and “Dixie’s” shtick to know their accounts were not the basis for a legitimate journalistic piece. What was really enlightening was spending a few minutes on the “Dixie Longate” Facebook page. To say that his brand of humor is suited only for adults is an understatement. Can anyone recommend where I can go to read about the pertinent issues we face as a city?

    • W. Shrove, how do you explain this journalist’s other sources? (Note the lack of quotations, I thought you might be confused on proper usage. Just because you disagree, doesn’t make them fictional.) This contained zero rants, just presenting the information the journalist was tasked with covering. He thoroughly researched and gave all sides a chance to present their versions of the truth. And just because someone has had google-able troubles in the past, doesn’t immediately negate their credibility. A good journalist knows that, and if it did, Mr. James would be in trouble.

      It’s Gene’s ex-wife’s fault he did not pay his taxes or repay loans over multiple years. His ex-girlfriend is a jilted lover out for revenge with a checkered past. Dixie’s account of receiving hateful emails is untrue because she’s a crass trans comedian. Oh yeah, and it’s not his email. It’s the OCGOP’s fault a mailer went out falsely claiming he was the recipient of the Legion of Merit award. Wow, he’s either quite unlucky or has angered a lot of people. Who really knows, he’s only lived here a short time.

  • Wow! We are really getting low, or is it silly, this election. Not sure whether it’s the SC Establishment worried about losing control; or the fact that we appear to be a battleground for larger OC party politics. Either way, throwing some dirt on the wall from a disgruntled person with a fairly colorful past; regarding an unsubstantiated incident; about a person refusing to use their real name; seems a bit over the top. After all, Ancient Alien Theorists believe…………………………….!

    Seen it before in thirty years of city employment and as the son of a local politician in Westminster in the 60’s. People go crazy in politics. And, politics makes strange bedfellows.

    Go figure. Talk about irony. We now have a retired Air Force officer, who given his age, was no doubt a true cold warrior fighting Marxism; plus, the creator of one of our community’s most iconic locations honoring the Marines, who bled across numerous battlefields fighting Marxism, putting their political support behind a Democratic Socialist that belongs to an organization that celebrates the birthday of Karl Marx. Too weird! LOL! This is surely worthy of sitcom. I should have brought popcorn.

    As for Gene James. I like him. But, maybe that is just loyalty between two old paratroopers.

  • Interesting that the reporter is blocking comments on this article…I wonder why are how much are you getting paid?

  • Congratulations Shawn Raymundo. You’ve led with salacious innuendo, and wait until the bottom of the story to quote Gene James as saying, “Two institutions that I have taught at, Ms. Parker has made those allegations (to them), and each of those institutions investigated those allegations, and each time these allegations were found to be baseless,”

    I don’t blame you–who can keep from repeating a story about a transsexual Tupperware salesperson? BS like this is what keeps good people from public service. You’re right there on the edge of yellow journalism with this one.

    Question–why lead with a story from a woman who is most likely unbalanced and certainly vindictive? Is this what you’d call a wise editorial decision? Did you back this wild story up with any other information? Did you call the universities? How about his kids? Any of his supporters? His son wrote a note on social media explaining many of these PERSONAL issues, and then backed up the character of his father. Did you know about that? You could have also reached out to Crimestoppers in San Diego and the San Diego USO chapter, two charities where Gene James gives his time. Did I miss those quotes?

    This is character assassination disguised as a news story, and unfortunately it says more about our new reporter than it does about Gene James.

  • This is important information that needed to come to light. Shawn, I applaud your bravery and diligence. Please don’t be discouraged by the bully tactics of James’ ardent supporters and keep up the good work!

  • Chuck James is Gene’s son. Here’s what he had to say about this article;

    Chuck James “As Gene’s son, I can tell you that the author of that article took creative liberties, not only through exaggeration but outright fallacies. First of all, I’ve emailed with my father since at least 1999 and never once do I recall him to have a email address. Secondly, he was not “terminated” by AVI, he literally left there to take over as head of security for Jack in the Box. If he was “terminated”, as Mr. Raymundo states, then why would the company loan him nearly $50k? Thirdly, as for Diane Parker, she has been obsessed with my dad for years and will seemingly stop at nothing to disparage him. I’d love to elaborate on that, but the old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all” seems to fit here. My father never wanted this to become a mud slinging contest and has routinely stuck to the issues but clearly there are other candidates who, either through insecurities or a lack of substance, appear to choose mud slinging instead.”

    It’s your job as a reporter to dig out this information, especially if it has the potential to ruin reputations. I’m doubting you’d like to be on the receiving end of this type of lazy journalism Shawn Raymundo.

  • The James folks are amazing. It’s sad. So his defense to all of this is to have his alleged son claim Dad never had a certain e mail address? Whoa—- weak.

    This is simply good reporting. On another website you can clearly see Mr. James backing his truck with personal plates right up to a homeless tent at north beach. How fun Jim! Floor the gas peddle and let the assault begin!!

    That is one sick dude right there. I’m embarrassed for anyone who endorsed him, and you know who you are.

  • I tell you what the freakishly over zealous lot pushing at every opportunity for Gene James frightens me. I will not vote for him out of absolute disgust at the behavior of his supporters. Regardless of party affiliation and or motivation the mob mentality and rude bashing of our citizens is gross, necessary and shameless. These are your neighbors. You nasty live action trolls have scared this resident from voting for your holy saint and savior Gene James the one you so willingly slay your fellow neighbors for.

  • I agree with Lindsey!!

    James supporters have flat turned me off.

    Sad to see this bully blow hard approach in our Spanish Village…..

  • The nasty venomous slander from both sides is absolutely appalling. Trolling has become live action! Watching neighbors lashing out at one another digging for dirt and slandering one another over a City Council vote, it’s disgusting! What has the world come to? All I know is the behavior of one side in particular has swung so low no matter the character of their candidate I would never love for them. The countless posts on every platform idolizing a man to unreasonable stature like some patron saint is alarming to me. The polarization is unnatural and so far conscious. When this election is over you will still have to face your neighbors you slandered; and over what?! Live action trolls, no longer require the anonymity of the internet they free wheel the hate unabashed. San Clemente, once surfer cool now mob rule.

  • The nasty venomous slander from both sides is absolutely appalling. Trolling has become live action! Watching neighbors lashing out at one another digging for dirt and slandering one another over a City Council vote, it’s disgusting! What has the world come to? All I know is the behavior of one side in particular has swung so low no matter the character of their candidate I would never vote for them. The countless posts on every platform idolizing a man to unreasonable stature like some patron saint is alarming to me. The polarization is unnatural and so far conscious. When this election is over you will still have to face your neighbors you slandered; and over what?! Live action trolls, no longer require the anonymity of the internet they free wheel the hate unabashed. San Clemente, once surfer cool now mob rule.

  • Lindsey

    While the anger is disturbing, it’s mostly one sided. Trump ignorance has flowed widely over modern society.
    Luckily OC has become blue, that will help.

    I’m so glad my immediate neighbors are moderates and that the impeachment is at least moving forward!

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