On Thursday, the Vanguard received a tip that two members on the Davis College Republicans Executive Board – JB Martinez and Karan Brar – are the plaintiffs in the CVRA (California Voting Rights Act) suit represented by Matt Rexroad, himself a Republican Political Consultant.
While Mr. Rexroad did not confirm the identities of the plaintiffs in a text message, he did not deny it either.
He told the Vanguard in a text: “If my clients decide to come forward, that is up to them. In watching this situation play out, I see no reason for them to directly subject themselves to the political climate in Davis.”
Emails sent to the two on their UC Davis email address requesting an interview were not returned on Thursday.
All available evidence lines up behind these two individuals being the plaintiffs, and the overall involvement of the college Republicans along with Mr. Rexroad, a known Republican operative. The question is – why?
On that, we have no answers. Mr. Rexroad told the Vanguard that “it is extremely unlikely that either of my clients will ever run for public office in Davis.”
Notice the emphasis on Davis in his comment. He told the Enterprise that his clients were an Asian and Latino.
Mr. Brar is the treasurer of the college Republicans while JB Martinez is the co-chair.
The two were spotted on Tuesday night at the council meeting along with a third colleague. Bear in mind, it is mid-August, more than a month from the start of school and, as a rule, college Republicans have not been known to frequent city council meetings – particularly for issues of this sort.
One observer noted to us that not only did they attend, but they were engaged – taking photos of various slides presented during the staff report, for example.
Her letter stood out because it seemed misaligned with Republican values.
She wrote, “When the City of Davis received notice that they have been holding illegal elections that disenfranchise voters of color, I had hoped that the legal threat would be the encouragement the city required to make needed reforms. Unfortunately, their reaction was thoroughly disappointing.”
She added, “Instead of doing what they could to rectify their mistakes and give representation to all communities of color, the city of Davis is claiming ‘they do not have time’ to fix the problem ‘in time for the 2020 elections.’”
After the fact, Mr. Rexroad told me that he did not know her. But he did acknowledge there was a campaign of sorts to get letters to the editor.
Then there was an email campaign to council. Three members of the college Republicans sent separate emails.
Janel Magee, Advisor to the Board wrote: “[E]lection districts provide representatives that are more equipped to represent the specific issues and need of a more concentrated section of the community rather than washing people out.” They added: “Election districts will allow better ideological representation for the people in Davis.”
Ryan Gardiner wrote: “I am writing today to express my support for district elections and a November 2020 election. The combination of districts and a November election will encourage voter participation and provide equal opportunity to engage in the electoral process. I urge the City Council to vote for those items tonight.”
Not only was Ryan Gardiner the President of the College Republicans in 2018-19, but his Instagram shows that he works for Meridan, which is Matt Rexroad’s consulting company.
Finally, there is Michael Gofman, who most know is the immediate past President of ASUCD but he is also an ex-officio member of the College Republican Board.
He writes: “I strongly urge you to do what is right and transition to district City Council elections to ensure equal representation for all our communities residents. I also encourage you to move the date of the 2020 election to November, 2020, to ensure that equal representation happens as soon as possible.”
There was an article that appeared on December 11, 2018, in the Aggie – “The Elephant in the Room.”
Ryan Gardiner, then President of DCR, said, “Davis celebrates diversity of all different kinds, which is important and strengthens our campus. Except the one type of diversity which Davis does not give value to is ideological diversity.”
Karan Brar was also quoted in the article, “We should be able to disagree with each other. I believe more debates between the two parties will not only excite both conservatives and liberals on campus to attend these debates, but it will also encourage Independents and Non-Political students to attend. An active democracy is a healthy democracy.”
Is that the angle that everyone has been looking for? The Davis College Republicans and Matt Rexroad believe that, by going to district elections, they can get a Republican on the Davis City Council? Or is there something else going on?
One thing is clear – six college Republicans are involved here, throw in political operative and consultant Matt Rexroad and the anonymous tip and the case is strong. The question now is why?
—David M. Greenwald reporting