Commission Poised to Dismiss Complaints against Manh Nguyen

A little more than a week ago, Manh Nguyen's opponents filed four separate but similar complaints against the San Jose council candidate that accused him of lying about his marital status on city documents.

The city's Ethics Commission will review the allegations when it meets Wednesday, though an independent evaluator has already recommended dismissing the complaints.

The complaints filed between May 27 and June 1 claim that Nguyen checked a box on a Family Gift Reporting Form indicating that he doesn't have a spouse. Property records, however, show that he's still married, and Nguyen admitted as much in an interview with San Jose Inside, though he's been separated from his wife for years.

Hanson Bridgett, the law firm hired by the city to review the ethics complaints, concluded that there's simply not enough evidence to merit an investigation.

"Even reading the complaint in a manner designed to give as much benefit of the doubt to the complainant as possible, we nevertheless conclude that the complainant does not identify specific facts, which if proven, would be a violation of Title 12," Steven Miller and Joan Cassman write in their evaluation of city ethics code. "We therefore did not conduct an investigation of the complaint. We recommend that the commission dismiss the matter without taking further action."

The law firm's recommendation was first reported by the Mercury News.

Nguyen, who runs his own Vietnamese-language media company, dismissed the complaints as frivolous. On Friday, he issued a statement denouncing negative campaigning.

"I have been accused of sending a mailer I did not send, owing taxes on a business I do not own and living where I do not live," he said. "Labor and their supporters are attacking me in the final days of the campaign because they cannot win by talking about the facts."

Nguyen set up a page on his campaign website to debunk some of the rumors, most of which can be traced back to labor blogs and attack mailers. But some of the attacks come from within the Vietnamese community, which has long been rife with political divisions.

Nguyen upset one of the complainants, criminal defense attorney Minh Steven Dovan, by rallying behind Sam Liccardo in last year's mayoral election. Dovan, who supported Dave Cortese, said he had a falling out with Nguyen and resigned after hosting of one of his TV shows for almost three decades.

A candidate for San Jose's District 4 council seat, Nguyen faces Tim Orozco, a policy aide for state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) who has also faced scrutiny for two drunk driving arrests. While Nguyen has garnered support from the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Orozco is endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council.

Whoever wins the June 23 special election could shift the council's balance of power on key issues like pension reform.

The north San Jose council seat opened up last fall, when then-Councilman Kansen Chu was elected to the state Assembly.

Orozco and Nguyen have espoused very different views on jobs, housing and pension reform, though they both agree on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 and improving the city's pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

Just about 4,400 ballots have already been returned in the special election, which is expected to have very low turnout, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Jen,

    Manh and his wife have been split for 10 years.

    ATTACK: Manh has multiple wives.

    SOURCE: Anonymous attack

    FACT: Manh has one wife. He and his wife informally separated more than a decade ago. Since that time, Manh has had relationships with other women, but his marriage was never dissolved.

    If you can prove otherwise then this would be a respectable article, on the level of JK’s Shirakawa/Campos investigations. Otherwise this is just tabloid journalism.

    • FACT: Manh’s marriage never dissolved, however, the marriage of the MARRIED woman, whom he had relationship with and gave a birth of his third child, was dissolved.

  2. ATTACK: Manh sent a mailer calling himself an attorney.
    FACT: Exactly he sent a mailer calling him a JURIST.

    Manh claimed “Manh has consistently lived in District 4 since 1982.”
    FACT: But he just rent an apartment in D4 in November 2014.

    ATTACK: Manh has multiple wives.
    FACT: He has one wife and relationships with MARRIED women, and his son is NOT a child of his wife.

    • OI Vey!

      ATTACK: Manh sent a mailer calling himself an attorney.

      SOURCE: The Left Hook (Labor Council blog)

      FACT: Manh’s campaign never sent such a mailer, and the Left Hook could not produce a physical copy of said mailer. The Labor Council has since changed their story to say that the “mailer” was really an advertisement in a Vietnamese magazine (Tieng Dan), but they have yet to produce a physical copy of this ad, and Manh’s campaign never placed such an ad in that publication. An examination of the image of the “mailer” on the Left Hook blog shows that it is a screenshot from the website for Viet Vung Vinh where an erroneous banner ad for Manh’s campaign had been posted for 24-48 hours more than five months ago before being removed. Manh has consistently noted throughout the campaign that he has a law degree but has never been a licensed attorney.

      ATTACK: Manh does not live in District 4.

      SOURCE: Ethics Commission complaint by a Labor Council ally

      FACT: Manh has consistently lived in District 4 since 1982. In the time since he and his wife informally separated more than a decade ago, Manh has maintained his primary residence in the same home to help raise his three children, the youngest of which is now a sophomore at UC Berkeley.

      • FACT: Throughout the campaign, Manh had never stated he was not a lawyer once someone called him an lawyer. In fact, he broadcast on his own radio station his endorser’s message calling him as a lawyer.

        Mạnh provides a FACT “Manh has consistently lived in District 4 since 1982.” which was 33 years,
        and states on his campaign website “I have lived, worked, and volunteered in District 4 for 37 years”, but
        in the interview with Valley Politics ( was only 35 years.

        FACt: Manh had relationships with two MARRIED women and the marriages both MARRIED women dissolved after their relationships with Manh. Manh youngest child raised by the child’s mother and her husband until the child was 14 year-old. Then he came to live with his two half-blood sisters.

        • I’m younger than Manh. The other day my wife tells me, “It’s our anniversary!” so I ask, “How long have we been together?” “18 married, 22 if you count our courtship years”

          If I can forget my anniversary, and how many years I’ve been married, I wouldn’t put it past Manh to have forgotten a few years.

          Honestly, I don’t think anyone cares about his personal relationships. Even the Ethics comittee is dismissing them, unless you think you know better than they do. Should we bow before your brilliance?

          • I really don;t care his residency nor his personal life.
            The Ethics Committee has no adjudication on this matter–The status of marriage has nothing to do with the campaign report.
            We as employer want to see the candidates’ resume before offering the job and we should care about the honesty of candidates, and we should offer job to employee not based on his/her race. Would you “Vote for Vietnamese or Mexican” ?

      • > SOURCE: The Left Hook (Labor Council blog)


        What is Rich Robinson’s association with The Left Hook?

        Be specific and complete, Show your work, and don’t leave anything out.

    • Seems like folks are stuck at a response.

      I don’t care about Tim’s DUI’s from 16 years ago. People tend to change in that amount of time. The one thing I do care about though is the mudslinging on both sides on past, over, and done with issues. This level of mudslinging to me doesn’t really show me that either candidate is particularly confident.

      If enough people say, “This mudslinging sucks” I don’t think we’d hear agreement from them, rather I think we’d hear, “Well he did it first!”

      • I heard Manh’s campaign had put out some sort of statement or press release denouncing the attacks against him and his opponents. I wonder if you or anyone has seen it. If so, he deserves to have my family’s votes. Of course, we were leaning for Manh anyway. He has been our neighbor for many years.

        • Hearing this was a pleasant surprise Damon. I just walked a precinct for Manh today. Liccardo, Khamis, Tam Nguyen, and Chappie Jones were all in attendance. First time really meeting Chappie, good personality, I like him.

          • Good for you for walking a precinct.

            I personally will never vote for anyone whose job is just as a staffer to a politician.

    • To be honest with you, the two DUIs do bother me a bit because the second one was when Tim Orozco was already 38/39. Not some young college kid. What I find truly disturbing is that Tim is still drinking…after 2 DUIs. He should know better. He works in politics.

  3. I’m voting for Tim Orozco because Nguyen isn’t the right Manh for District #4. I’ll take the candidate endorsed by working men & women over one backed by greedy Silicon Valley millionaires,most of whom actually live elsewhere. Tim has many years of experience working in the political arena,while Manh’s experience consists of heading a media company that’s efforts are aimed at only those fluent in Vietnamese. The melting pot that is District #4 needs someone who can represent the interests of all the working class people & the diverse neighborhoods they inhabit. The privileged few already have plenty of power & influence,do they really need any more than they already have ? Hell no !!! VOTE for OROZCO !!!!!

  4. I was shocked and sadden to read the Mercury News June 19th Readers’ Letter section where a resident advises that Mr. Nguyen is flooding the airwaves and playing the race card with the following statement” Viets must vote for Viet because Mexicans will vote for Mexicans”. If this is true then I don’t believe he will be fair and honest in his votes should he win the District 4 election.

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