My View: Who is Matt DeMoura and Does He Speak for the Yolo DA’s Office?

Matt DeMoura in a photo posted on the Yolo DA’s website, of him conducting a DUI trial

By David M. Greenwald 

A sponsored ad on Facebook the last few weeks turned some heads.  “Results over rhetoric, action over attacks, people over politics,” the ad read.  “Re-elect Jim Provenza.”  The photo is that of Jim Provenza speaking.

The group is Safe Neighborhoods Coalition.  It sounds innocuous but if you trace it down, you find out its a PAC connect to Yolo County Deputy DA Matt DeMoura.

The race between Jim Provenza, a three-term incumbent, and Linda Deos seems fairly low key.  Linda Deos has attempted to run on a justice reform platform, touting her support of and by Dean Johansson who ran a tough 2018 race against incumbent DA Jeff Reisig.  She has also pushed on the issue of bail reform among other things.

On the other hand, Jim Provenza, who supported Jeff Reisig in 2018 and was supported by the DA, has largely run on his record of 12 years on the board.

While the issue of the DA has surfaced at times, it does not appear to be the defining issue.  But of more interest to me has been the role of Matt DeMoura overall.

If one glances at the Safe Neighborhoods Coalition Facebook you see a very conservative—traditional law and order tone—tough on crime, critical of reform efforts.

As we have noted in previous installments, in February they posted an ad with the caption:  “Dr. Drew Pinsky has been treating addiction and mental illness for years. Listen to his view… Many local leaders endorsed Prop 47. Did yours? What are they doing to fix it? #Prop47.’

It links to a FoxLA article entitled: “Prop 47 is murder.”

In January the group hosted an event: “With increasing concerns of crime, homelessness, and other issues, a growing coalition of local people are going to start doing something positive to affect a change in the community.”

On the group’s Facebook page, they say public safety is their top goals.

They claim to advance their mission in two ways: “By supporting local elected leaders who share our concerns and advocate for approaches that keep us safe,” and,  “By supporting policies, programs and organizations that enhance public safety.”

Last week, they posted an article on an Oakland murder, with the caption, “As violent crime surges to record highs in many major American cities, progressive politicians are deafly silent about it all. Instead, they stand in front of the cameras, reporters and bloggers and talk about disbanding, renaming or defunding the police.”

DeMoura also mixes it up with the Davis Police Accountability Commission.

He quotes a September Davis Enterprise article: “The [grand jury] panel . . . scrutinized the PAC’s actions since its initial meeting in January 2019, finding that the commission struggles with ‘tensions’ among members regarding its focus, along with a policy that limits relationship-building with Davis police.”

Then he writes: “Pretty embarrassing for an organization that is about “accountability.””

It seems reasonable to ask if Matt DeMoura is acting on his own or on behalf of the Yolo County DA’s Office.

You might recall that on September 11, DeMoura published an op-ed in the Woodland Daily Democrat heavily critical of Supervisor Don Saylor.

Supervisor Saylor had some concerns about the DA’s budget and Matt DeMoura in a letter signed by 32 other employees of the DA’s office offered some rather pointed criticism.

He wrote: “These principles call us to question the recent actions of Supervisor Don Saylor, specifically that Saylor published a misleading, disingenuous letter in the press attacking the Yolo County District Attorney’s budget request and a supposed lack of transparency by the Yolo DA’s Office.”

As we pointed out at the time, that characterization of Saylor’s op-ed is itself misleading and disingenuous.  He had some concerns about the budget and aired them for the public to take note.

DeMoura pointedly charged, “Saylor is manipulating the recent calls for reform to set the stage for his own political performance.”

Later DeMoura charged that Saylor “recklessly suggest(ed) we are essentially hoarding money capable of general use and, finally, that he told the public we lacked transparency for failing to provide facts he knew he would have in exactly two days.”

He continues: “How could someone so vilify an agency in their public comments and then sit with an open heart and mind when conducting official duties? Here, not only did Saylor write a letter in the press singling out one county department, not only did he act alone and before hearing all the facts (like an angry, misguided TWEET), but also omitted key facts and told the public the DA has not provided something that he knew he would have in 48 hours.”

DeMoura concludes: “If Saylor wants to find a prosecutor’s office to be his political punching bag he should look elsewhere or, better yet, focus on the value the DA’s Office brings to the county.”

At the time, I and many others thought this op-ed was over-the-top and clearly disproportionate to the questions and tone put forward by Supervisor Saylor, who as an elected official has a duty to oversee the budget of the DA’s office and ask tough but reasonable questions.

It is easy to chalk this up as an isolated incident but putting DeMoura’s public op-ed that was signed onto by 32 members of the DA’s office together with his apparent one-man right wing campaign opposing criminal justice reform—it seems that we should be asking tough questions.

As it turns out on Thursday, once again, the Yolo County DA put out a complaint about the zero bail schedule.

In a press release, they stated, “Since April 13, 2020, 349 individuals have been arrested and released on zero bail a total of 410 times, with some benefitting from $0 bail on multiple occasions.  The individuals who have reoffended since their release on Zero Bail in Yolo County have committed over 378 new crimes in Yolo County alone.

“Those new crimes include 154 felonies and 224 misdemeanors, including crimes such as Attempted Murder, Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Assault by Means of Force Likely to Product Great Bodily Injury (14 new victims), Robbery (5 new victims), Burglary (21 new victims), felony domestic violence (5 new victims), possession of an assault weapon, gang crimes, and dozens of other new felony and misdemeanor crimes.”

But as we have pointed out in several articles now – the DA’s office continues to attack zero bail even though in June they wrote a letter to the presiding judge requesting that they maintain zero bail and have at no point expressed an official view to the contrary.

And finally there was the high profile response from DA Jeff Reisig who seemingly overreacted to comments by Public Defender Tracie Olson on June 8 regarding the proportion of Black people held in Yolo County jail.  Reisig took her relatively innocuous and generic comments as a personal attack.

All of that leads us to wonder what exactly is going on here and how much Matt DeMoura is using the Reisig playbook and how much of this is just him acting alone.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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22 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    “All of that leads us to wonder what exactly is going on here and how much Matt DeMoura is using the Reisig playbook and how much of this is just him acting alone.”

    Once again the Davis Vanguard attacks Provenza by trying to link him to the DA. This would be an October surprise if it wasn’t also brought out in something like 10 different articles this year.

    The answer to your question, at least in the Supervisor election, is DeMoura is acting independently of the Provenza campaign. By law Independent Expenditure Committees can have no coordination with a campaign.

    On the other hand Deos likely paid to be on a slate mailer that also had a vote no on 25 position. So if anything she is more responsible for advocating against bail reform than Provenza is for DeMoura’s facebook ad.

    However, in the end, I think this is all much ado about nothing.

    1. David Greenwald

      I did not attack Provenza at all. I mentioned him. In passing. In fact, I very specifically downplayed the issue and moved on: “While the issue of the DA has surfaced at times, it does not appear to be the defining issue. But of more interest to me has been the role of Matt DeMoura overall.” And that’s what the article is about.

      The bigger issue is DeMoura and the almost complete disappearance of Reisig from the public stage. Someone told me that they have hardly seen him since June 2018 and that he rarely comes into the office anymore.

        1. Alan Miller

          I tend to not give any credence to second hand anonymous accounts.

          KO, you may have noticed DG gives great credence to his own, personal interactions with the few, the proud, the anonymous.

  2. Ron Glick

    “At the time, I and many others thought this op-ed was over-the-top and clearly disproportionate to the questions and tone put forward by Supervisor Saylor, who as an elected official has a duty to oversee the budget of the DA’s office and ask tough but reasonable questions.”

    Of course in your rabid disdain for the DA you took Saylor’s bait on the budget and never considered that Saylor may have done this to make hay in Provenza’s re-election where Saylor has supported Deos. The fact that the budget vote on this item, something you never reported on despite writing repeatedly on Saylor’s claims, went against Saylor, tells you that the rest of the Supervisors saw through what Saylor was doing.

    1. David Greenwald

      As I said: ““While the issue of the DA has surfaced at times, it does not appear to be the defining issue. But of more interest to me has been the role of Matt DeMoura overall.” And that’s what the article is about. You don’t find it weird what DeMoura is doing? Everyone else I’ve talked to does.

      1. Ron Glick

        “You don’t find it weird what DeMoura is doing? Everyone else I’ve talked to does.”

        You need to get out more.

        A Deputy DA is a law and order zealot. De Moura and about a million other prosecutors in this country.

      2. Tia Will

        I don’t find what DeMoura is doing is “weird”. I do think it is highly partisan and favors DA Reisig’s regressive, “law and order” skewed heavily to those with resources over those from more vulnerable groups. If one finds this position in alignment with their own, of course, they are going to support his actions. If on the other hand, they supported Dean for DA or Deos for the supervisorial position, then not so much. This is not weird. It is pure partisan politics from an individual in an agency who ideally should be nonpolitical.

        1. Keith Olsen

           It is pure partisan politics from an individual in an agency who ideally should be nonpolitical.

          Do you feel the same way about statements of pure partisan politics like DA Krasner stated which was reported in a Vanguard article yesterday?

           “Donald Trump claims to be a ‘law and order’ president, but his administration has posed the greatest danger to public health and safety in modern history. More than 227,000 Americans 
          have died from COVID-19, and we are again seeing infections spike across the country.”

           

  3. Sharla Cheney

    David, I question the timing of this, if you didn’t intend it to link Provenza with your concerns about the DA’s office.

    I have emailed you about my concerns with proposed changes to the criminal justice system. There is one extreme – what Deos is proposing – and then there is the swing to the other extreme – lock ‘em up. I sent you an article from the SF Chronicle detailing the flaws with Prop 25 and concerns from the SF Public Defender about inadvertently exposing people to ever increasing and repeated minor violations and digging them further and further into the criminal justice system hole with no chance of escape.

    I think there is a middle point somewhere that works to protect the community as a primary purpose, but is more rehabilitative and tailored to the needs of people, protects people from injustice, and is focused on improving lives. From looking over Provenza’s record, that is where Provenza is.

    1. David Greenwald

      The timing coincided with when I saw the ad in my Facebook stream.

      On Prop 25 – there is a lot of concern among people in the justice reform movement – Mano Raju (who I know well) the SF Public Defender about replacing bail with a system that could mean more people stay in custody than present.

      I don’t have a big problem with Provenza’s record on justice reform overall, in fact, he was ahead of the curve on three strikes reform last decade.

      I do think some of Jim’s supporters are little too sensitive to anything that remotely looks like criticism.  This as not about Jim which is why the photo to lead the article was Matt not Jim.

  4. Ron Glick

    “I do think some of Jim’s supporters are little too sensitive to anything that remotely looks like criticism.”

    This has been a long campaign and during the entire time there have been efforts to tarnish Provenza as some sort of lock them up and throw away the key kind of guy. At the same time there has been the opposite portrayal of Deos as a champion of reform. Neither argument is supported by the facts.

    You have written close to 10 articles trying to link Provenza to Reisig and here you go again three days before the election. Then you accuse Provenza’s supporters of being overly sensitive. Give me a break.

    1. David Greenwald

      “You have written close to 10 articles trying to link Provenza to Reisig”

      It looks like I have written personally three or four and goes back a full year.

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