Married CA Dem Asm. Phil Ting Used Woman He Met on "Sugar Daddy" Site to Testify for His Legislation

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
AP featured image
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, discusses his measure requiring police body camera video to be released after fatal police shootings and other significant incidents, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. California lawmakers are advancing Assembly Bill 748 which would establish a statewide policy on when recordings should be released. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)


Corruption among Democrat elected officials and their top cronies is legendary in San Francisco (think arms-trafficker Sen. Leland Yee and former Mayor Willie Brown’s entire machine, for starters), and based on just part one of a bombshell investigative series that dropped Friday Asm. Phil Ting’s name might be added to the list of legends.

Ting, former San Francisco Assessor-Controller and crony of Gov. Gavin Newsom, now wields a large amount of power as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. He’s being groomed for higher office, and has been the subject of numerous puff pieces like this February 2020 profile likening him to Dale Carnegie and Don Quixote:

Dale Carnegie could have been talking about Phil Ting when the positive-thinking guru said, decades ago, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Ting is that person. Sometimes he’s the California Assembly’s Don Quixote, chasing seemingly impossible dreams. He has tried to persuade skeptical colleagues to punish companies that do business with the Trump administration and to tell Californians to park their gas-fueled cars forever — even as he performs the more practical task of managing the Assembly’s purse strings as chairman of the powerful budget committee.

Interestingly, the very personality traits described so glowingly in that piece – persistence and persuasion – are the same traits Ting allegedly used to manipulate an immigrant single mom he met on “the world’s largest dating-auction website” (and with whom he carried on an extramarital affair) into being “a prop to bolster support for a number of ballot measures and bills” that were important to Ting and his largest contributors, the unions.


Ting didn’t use his real name, his own photo, or his true profession on his What’s Your Price account (although the company claims to thoroughly vet both “generous members” and “attractive members). He passed himself off to potential dates as “Peter,” a consultant.

Ting met Carmel Foster, a black woman who’d worked in policy in South Africa’s post-Apartheid government before immigrating to the United States, on the app in 2016. Foster, who’d recently left an abusive marriage, told investigative journalist Jennifer O’Connell that over the course of the four-year affair she was exploited by Ting, the California Labor Federation, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“These unions controlled my testimonies, got stories out of me, and then tossed me out. It was payday for them, not to help domestic workers. I sat next to Lorena Gonzalez to testify at her AB5 hearing on April 3, 2019, yet she never talked to me and refused to meet with me beforehand. I’ve had so many sleepless nights. It’s been hard for me as an immigrant and a divorcee, because I came from the corporate world. The worst humiliation is this person, Phil Ting, sleeping with me when I was living from motel to motel.”

Foster was the star (and only) witness who testified on behalf of the measure at that Labor Committee hearing, introduced by Caitlin Vega of the California Labor Federation.


Amazingly, Ting addressed the allegations within 24 hours, admitting the affair but denying that his “advocacy for workers was motivated by a relationship outside of my marriage. The allegation that my bills or votes were ever driven by any personal consideration is false. I have fought for the rights of working people my entire adult life,” and blaming the hubbub on a “right-wing online site.”

But that’s not what was alleged; exploitation of a minority immigrant woman’s economic struggle in order to pass controversial legislation that benefits unions, who are his top donors, was the allegation.

In addition, it looks like Ting used another Asian legislator’s photograph, Asm. Phillip Chen (R-Orange County) for his What’s Your Price profile. While O’Connell’s piece doesn’t explicitly make that statement (perhaps part 2 or 3 will), the piece states that Ting did not use his own photograph and contains a screenshot of an email in which Ting sent Foster a photograph of himself – but that photograph is of Chen.

CREDIT: Used with permission of Communities Digital News/As the Girl Turns


With Ting’s admission/apology, CA Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was satisfied that there’s “nothing to see here.”

There we go again. Dismissing serious allegations as being from a “right-wing blog” and denying the total exploitation of vulnerable people by powerful elected officials is standard operating procedure for California Democrats.

No mention by Rendon or Ting about the skeevy site Ting apparently hung out on. Anyone who thinks Ting’s shenanigans were a one-off needs to have their head examined. Bustle describes What’s Your Price thusly:

The aptly-named wesbite, where you can “get the date simply by using your wallet,” is essentially a giant online dating auction, in which men bid on dates with attractive women like they’re cattle.

A Cosmopolitan columnist was a bit more blunt, describing it as “[A] website that seriously exists and is basically called  ‘Yo, How Much Does It Cost To Bang You?'”


On the site, a carefully-worded description attempts to hide the bottom line: Men with money pay varying prices to “have experiences” with attractive women.

CREDIT: Screengrab from

The site was founded by Brandon Wade, who launched the similar websites Seeking Arrangements and Miss Travel, and is flagged as a dangerous site potentially enabling human trafficking/sexual trafficking by Childsafe.

Again, no comment by Ting or Rendon about that aspect of the story; they’re probably hoping if they ignore it, it’ll go away.

And, there has been no acknowledgement by Ting or Rendon of the serious charge that Ting impersonated Asm. Chen on this shady site.

While the California GOP was shamefully silent all weekend, Harmeet Dhillon, the RNC Committeewoman from California, lit Rendon and Ting up in a series of tweets demanding Ting resign. Dhillon, a well-respected attorney, says Ting “committed wire fraud by impersonating another assembly member on a human trafficking app for the purposes of soliciting sex.”


Cal Matters’ Laurel Rosenhall noted that Speaker Rendon seemed to be dismissing the allegations with a tweet and owed it to people to say definitively whether they’d be investigated.


As of the time of publication, there is no further word from Rendon or the Assembly Dems on an investigative action. They’re likely waiting to see what’s next.


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