Article by TRACEY KAPLAN
The Stanford law professor who recently led the first successful campaign in decades to topple a sitting California judge over a controversial sentence in a sexual assault case is now moving on to even bigger targets: politicians across the country who fail to take violence against women seriously or who have been accused of committing sexual misconduct themselves.
On Monday, Michele Dauber launched the Enough is Enough Project, a national political action committee aimed at elected officials and candidates from California to Tennessee. Unlike PACs whose primary goal is electing women, Enough is Enough aims to ensure that the #MeToo movement that erupted last fall and is now roiling the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh remains a powerful force, particularly in blocking lower-level politicians from ascending to more powerful positions.
“It’s time to end a culture that protects the careers of powerful men who abuse women or other survivors, and put this issue before the voters,” said Dauber, chair of the PAC. “We are going to put rape culture on the ballot across the country.”
The group’s website notes that while “predators” are finally being held accountable all across the country, “elected office is one of the places where accountability has lagged behind.”
Among the candidates Enough is Enough cites on its website is Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd, a former high school basketball coach recently accused by three women of having sexually abused them when they were ages 15 and 16, and played on the team he coached. Byrd has not denied the allegations and recently apologized to one of the players for his conduct. Despite bipartisan calls for him to resign, he refused and is currently running for re-election.
Byrd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The PAC already has marshaled significant support from liberal women’s groups. Among its board members is Emiliana Guereca, co-executive director of Women’s March Los Angeles, who brings to the table an email list of more than 800,000 supporters. The Feminist Majority has endorsed the effort, and leading Democratic pollster Celinda Lake is conducting polls for the group. Lake called Enough is Enough a “game changer” and “one of the most exciting developments in politics.’’
“It’s turning a cultural revolution into a political revolution,’’ Lake said. “Even if they don’t win every race, I think it will change behavior and change which candidates the parties will run.’’
But California Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, whom the PAC also features in its rouges gallery, condemned the committee as an attempt by the “far left” to attack Republicans in the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Mathis has been reprimanded by the state Assembly for violating the sexual harassment policy by making frequent sexual comments about co-workers and fellow Assembly members. Last year, the Tulare Conty Republican Central Committee censured Mathis, saying he was an “embarrassment to his constituents” and calling on him to resign.
“It is my opinion that this is another liberal political smear organization getting free press from an equally-liberal news media,” Mathis said in a written statement. “After an investigation that dragged on for over nine months, I was found to have committed nothing worse than “locker room talk” – far less egregious than some of my Democrat colleagues – yet, again, I don’t see any Democrats as targets of their ire.”
By jumping into the fray only six weeks before the Nov. 6 election, Enough is Enough must quickly raise money to have an impact. Dauber declined to say how much the group hopes to tap or has already been promised. As a “super PAC,’’ it may collect unlimited sums of money in some states from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then can spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs like Dauber’s are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit.
But Dauber has already proved she is no slouch when it comes to fundraising, collecting more than $1.4 million to recall former Judge Aaron Persky — primarily from powerful women in Silicon Valley.
After a bitter political battle, 62 percent of Santa Clara County voters in June booted Persky out of office for giving a six-month sentence to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting an unconscious, intoxicated woman outside a fraternity party on the Stanford campus. It was the first time in more than 86 years that a sitting California judge had been recalled…
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