Stanford law professor Michele Dauber wants state Senate hopeful Ann Ravel to give back thousands in campaign cash from her current employer, prominent South Bay attorney James McManis.
The push comes about a month before the Nov. 3 election, but stems from a 2018 campaign in which Ravel and McManis pitted themselves against Judge Aaron Persky’s recall. The Santa Clara County Superior Court judge made headlines in 2016 after sentencing ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to a measly six months in county jail for raping now-best selling author Chanel Miller.
McManis became persona non grata for Dauber and the Recall Persky campaign when he made victim-blaming comments to the media that Miller had “not [been] attacked” by Turner and accused her of not writing her own victim impact statement.
Ravel, a former Federal Election Commission chair who faces Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese for the District 15 senate seat, apologized last year for endorsing the campaign to keep Persky on the bench but told Fly this week she won’t give the money back. McManis was acting as a lawyer when he made those comments, and won’t have influence on her lawmaking, she said.
“There are people who represent murderers and they’re doing what they’re supposed to do under the law and under our system of justice,” Ravel said. “What they are arguing is clearly showing a lack of understanding of the importance of the justice system.”
Ravel accepted $2,000 from McManis as well as another $7,000 from other colleagues at his law firm. “You publicly said that you regretted your association with McManis’s vile attacks, but you have privately taken his money,” Dauber and some of her colleagues from the Recall Persky campaign wrote in a letter to Ravel. “In so doing you have turned your back on the women of this County who overwhelmingly voted to condemn Brock Turner, Aaron Persky, and the victim-blaming of Jim McManis.”
Below is the full text of Dauber and her colleague’s letter.
Dear Ms. Ravel:
We write with an issue of grave concern to women throughout Santa Clara County. In 2018, you were one of the primary public faces of the campaign against the recall of Judge Persky (see attached screenshot from Judge Persky’s website featuring your image). On March 7, 2019, following the successful recall of Judge Persky by a 24-point margin, you sat down with the recall leadership (including some of the signatories below) for over two hours and declared that you regretted being associated with Persky’s campaign (see attached article “State Senate Hopeful Ann Ravel Says She Regrets Endorsing Judge Persky’s Campaign.”).
In that March 2019 meeting, you professed shock that the leaders of Judge Persky’s campaign, including Jim McManis, had engaged in what you called an “unconscionable” level of “victim blaming and negativity” toward Turner’s victim, then known only as “Emily Doe.” Doe was sexually assaulted by Stanford swimmer Brock Turner behind a dumpster at a 2015 campus frat party. (Doe later disclosed her identity as Santa Clara County native Chanel Miller in her bestselling and award-winning memoir Know My Name, and is an Asian-American writer and artist whose work is currently on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Jim McManis made numerous completely inappropriate victim-blaming statements about Emily Doe. For example, McManis told the Mercury News in May 2018 that contrary to the jury verdict convicting Turner of three felony sex crimes, Doe had consented to the assault. He repeated this falsehood to the Palo Alto Post two days later, saying that Doe had “passed out drunk during a consensual encounter,” and that this was not an assault because Turner didn’t jump out at her from behind a dumpster. McManis told Vogue Magazine that Doe was “not attacked,” emphasized that she had “been drinking,” and said falsely that she did not write her own victim impact statement.
Had McManis simply stated that he opposed the recall based on judicial independence, that would have been incorrect but not morally repugnant. That is not what happened. Instead, McManis publicly defended the sex felon Brock Turner and attacked his victim.
If there is a more appalling example of the mistreatment of a sexual assault victim in Santa Clara County than that provided by Jim McManis we certainly do not know what it is. That is why the YWCA of Silicon Valley recently showed tremendous integrity and refused to accept a large donation from McManis. The Executive Director of the YWCA, Tanis Crosby, said she was returning McManis’s money because his conduct toward Turner’s victim Emily Doe was “deeply at odds with the values of the YWCA.”
You worked for McManis beginning in summer 2018. We found it difficult to believe that you were unaware of McManis’s many inappropriate and highly public victim blaming statements
defending Brock Turner. However, we appreciated and accepted your apology for associating yourself with a campaign that had engaged in such shameful conduct. We believed that you, like the YWCA, would distance yourself from McManis. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. You still work for McManis and appear on his law firm website. Even worse, your campaign finance reports show that you have taken thousands of dollars from McManis and members of his law firm.
Public records show thousands in contributions from James McManis and members of the McManis law firm to your campaign. These contributions total $7,750. James McManis alone gave you $2,000.
We are astonished that after your public apology and press statements expressing regret for your association with the victim-blaming statements of Jim McManis, you continue to work for him and to take thousands of dollars from him and the members of his firm in your run for Senate.
You were the chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). You are running for Senate on your supposed record of transparency and integrity. You publicly said that you regretted your association with McManis’s vile attacks, but you have privately taken his money. In so doing you have turned your back on the women of this County who overwhelmingly voted to condemn Brock Turner, Aaron Persky, and the victim-blaming of Jim McManis.
The women of this County deserve better. We are calling on you to follow the example of the YWCA and immediately return these donations and condemn and sever ties with Judge Persky and Brock Turner supporter Jim McManis.
Please let us know when you have returned these contributions, and condemned and severed ties with McManis. The women of Santa Clara County deserve to know where you stand.
This letter was written in the individual capacity of the signers, and not on behalf of any organization or entity. All titles are for identification purposes only.
Michele Landis Dauber, former Chair, Committee to Recall Judge Persky
Jennie Hutchinson, former Board Member, Committee to Recall Judge Persky
Sita Stukes, former Board Member, Committee to Recall Judge Persky
LezLi Logan, former Board Member, Committee to Recall Judge Persky
Rebeca Armendariz, former Board Member, Committee to Recall Judge Persky Sophia Yen, MD MPH, former Board Member, Committee to Recall Judge Persky