By David M. Greenwald
Woodland, CA – DA Candidate Cynthia Rodriguez must be fairly clean, because it seems the worst they can do is attack her for being “soft on criminals,” using two campaign contributions as evidence. That’s right, two of them—one of which was returned and the other which is an ongoing case where you can reasonably question the ethics and propriety of the DA’s office turning the Ajay Dev case into a political football.
Neither actually proves that Rodriguez would be soft on criminals. But as we previously noted, Ryan Couzens, Assistant Chief Deputy DA, has woven a full conspiracy suggesting a plot between the Dev folks and the Rodriguez campaign.
He writes that “the People believe the Petitioner, Ajay Dev, intends to delay this proceeding not only to avoid taking the testimony of Michael Rothschild, but to take advantage of a possible election outcome for the current District Attorney’s race, in which the undersigned believes there has already been at least one communication with candidate Cynthia Rodriguez that raises serious ethical issues.”
What about the ethical issues of using a case that the DA’s office is current litigating as a centerpiece in an attack campaign against Rodriguez?
While Couzens raises the charges, it has in fact been Reisig and his office that have politicized the case in this election cycle.
The latest attack comes not from the Reisig campaign directly but from the Safe Neighborhoods Coalition PAC. Robert Hansen of the Vanguard yesterday noted about 20,000 or so voters received this attack flier and that the PAC is headed by Yolo County Deputy DA Matt De Moura.
As we noted in the fall of 2020, when the group was supporting Supervisor Jim Provenza, at the time they had a Facebook presence that showed a very conservative, traditional law and order tone.
In February 2020, 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.”
De Moura 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 De Moura is acting on his own or on behalf of the Yolo County DA’s Office.
Back in September 2020, De Moura 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 De Moura 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.
De Moura pointedly charged, “Saylor is manipulating the recent calls for reform to set the stage for his own political performance.”
Later De Moura 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 continued: “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.”
De Moura concluded: “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 De Moura’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.
During the current campaign Reisig has tried to paint the picture of himself as reformer while attacking Rodriguez for being too soft on crime and too close to progressive prosecutors from the Bay Area.
De Moura’s late entry into this fight shows where a lot of the DA’s support actually lies—with law enforcement and his staff, and much of that staff is hard right.