Camarillo Chamber CEO resigns amid legal dispute
[EDITOR’S NOTE: See correction appended below]
Jennifer Wells, the CEO of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, has resigned about a month after the chamber’s former tourism marketing director sued the organization when he was allegedly fired in a dispute over the handling of child support payments.
Don Tillquist, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, said Wells’ departure was unrelated to the lawsuit.
“That had nothing to do with her resigning,” Tillquist told the Business Times. “Last Friday, she gave us a verbal resignation, and we got a written resignation yesterday stating she wanted to pursue other interests. She’s been with us for three years. She served the chamber and the membership very well. We’re going to miss her and wish her well in her other endeavors.”
Wells, who maintains a small-business accounting practice in Port Townsend, Wash., did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
On Dec. 20, Anthony McDemas, the chamber’s former tourism marketing director, sued the group and Wells over how his child support payments were handled. The complaint alleges that McDemas left his job in Tehachapi and took a pay cut to be closer to his children and that the chamber knew he was involved in a child custody dispute.
In the last half of October, the complaint alleges, McDemas saw that child support had been deducted from his check but was alerted by county officials that the payment had not been received. When McDemas confronted Wells, the complaint alleges, she said the chamber had not sent his payment because it was “tight on money.” McDemas was fired soon afterward, according to the complaint.
Neither the chamber nor Wells have formally responded to the lawsuit, which was filed in Ventura County Superior Court.
Tillquist said that the lawsuit is being handled by the chamber’s liability insurance company and that the board and staff are no longer involved with it.
“That’s out of the chamber’s hands,” he told the Business Times.
The Camarillo Chamber of Commerce is the region’s eighth-largest chamber with 550 members.
[CORRECTION at 2:50 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2014: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that McDemas was the chamber’s former marketing director. In fact, he was the organization’s former tourism marketing director, a specialized role for which he was hired in January 2013 to create the Camarillo Visitors Center.]