Morro Bay Mayor John Headding and Helios Dayspring

This week, registered voters received a text message from current Morro Bay Councilwoman and Assembly candidate Dawn Addis endorsing Mayor John Headding for re-election. Without evidence, Ms. Addis claimed that Democrats support Mayor Headding. Headding is not listed as an endorsement by the SLO County Democratic Party.

So my question is: are these the same Democrats that supported cannabis mogul and Morro Bay native Helios Dayspring, who is now serving time in federal prison for bribing an elected official and filing a false income tax return? Or is she referring to Dayspring himself?

2018 Helios Dayspring fundraiser flier

On Oct. 28, 2018, then-mayoral candidate Headding and then-council candidate Addis attended a fundraiser at the home of Dayspring along with several noted Democrats. When the website Cal Coast News reported on the fundraiser, Mr. Headding and Ms. Addis amended their campaign finance forms to include Dayspring’s fundraiser as an in-kind donation. Dayspring’s business, Natural Healing Center, was a client of Rock Harbor Marketing until it was revealed last year that Dayspring was facing criminal charges as a result of a federal investigation.

In 2019, the City of Morro Bay awarded Natural Healing Center one of two of their coveted recreational cannabis dispensary permits, despite the business scoring low in their criteria score and appearing at the bottom of the list. Dayspring’s attorney Jane Heath, a known supporter of Headding and an active donor to his 2022 re-election campaign, worked on Dayspring’s behalf to help secure his permit. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed against the City of Morro Bay by one of the permit applicants. The lawsuit was unsuccessful as the judge ruled the City exercised lawful discretion in selecting Natural Healing Center. Last year, the City of Morro Bay cleared themselves after conducting an internal review to determine whether any violations occurred in the process of granting a commercial cannabis license to Natural Healing Center, ignoring calls for an independent investigation.

Neither Mayor Headding nor Addis have disclosed to voters and constituents the extent of their involvement with Dayspring. They had four years to clarify on the record their relationship with Dayspring or why they chose to attend a fundraiser organized by him.

Ms. Addis and Mr. Headding can conceivably say, “We didn’t know about what he was doing in San Luis Obispo County at the time,” but Dayspring’s record in neighboring Santa Barbara County was heavily publicized. According to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Dayspring amassed a long record of allegedly mistreating workers at his Santa Barbara marijuana grows and had graded without securing the necessary permits to do so. Last year, Santa Barbara County ordered Dayspring to pay a $40,000 settlement for unlawfully altering and polluting a water stream within their jurisdiction.

So when Councilwoman Addis says that Democrats support Mayor Headding and the SLO County Democratic Party didn’t endorse him, one has to ponder the question: Then who did? The answer is Helios Dayspring.

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