Avalos Explains Endorsement Revocation, Calls for Davis to “Consider” Withdrawing Candidacy

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on October 19, 2012 with 19 Comments

District 11 Supervisor John Avalos. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

October 19, 2012

District 11 Supervisor John Avalos posted a statement on Facebook Wednesday denouncing “tactics of marginalization and disenfranchisement,” a reference to a cease-and-desist letter sent by District 5 candidate Julian Davis to Kay Vasilyeva, the woman who has publicly accused Davis of sexual assault, an allegation Davis refutes.

“One of the key goals of the progressive movement is – and must always be – the empowerment of people who have been historically disenfranchised,” Avalos wrote. “Further, we must work to educate ourselves so that we learn to identify and shun those tactics of marginalization and disenfranchisement when they occur.

“Women like Kay Vasilyeva, who courageously tell their wrenching, personal stories of victimization so that new generations of women can be empowered, those women deserve our attention. Our respect. Our admiration. I offer Kay Vasilyeva my support as a desperate candidate for office seeks to paint her as a political operative, rather than as the bright, hardworking feminist with integrity and courage that I have known her to be. I stand with Kay Vasilyeva.”

Avalos told FCJ that he discussed with Vasilyeva her complaint against Davis as far back as March but endorsed Davis in August because he understood the matter between Davis and Vasilyeva to have been “settled to a certain extent,” and that he only pulled his support and revoked his endorsement of Davis October 14 when he was made aware of Davis’ cease-and-desist letter to Vasilyeva.

“I’m not quite clear what the nature of the allegation was,” Avalos said. “I never heard sexual assault.”

Supervisors David Campos and Jane Kim joined Avalos and revoked their endorsements of Davis following Davis’ cease-and-desist letter.  All three supervisors voted October 9 to reinstate Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi following a protracted and politically charged seven-month inquisition into whether Mirkarimi was guilty of official misconduct.  District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague also voted to reinstate Mirkarimi prompting the San Francisco Police Officers Association to revoke its endorsement of Olague.

Avalos said he was “troubled” by Vasilyeva’s complaint when he first heard about it but endorsed Davis “because I felt that he had shown in the past that he had taken responsibility for it. What I didn’t know is that he really didn’t sufficiently make up for that and relate that past responsibly into the present and how he needs to be at another level running for supervisor in San Francisco.”

Asked if he had received assurances from Vasilyeva and Davis that the matter had been settled and wouldn’t later become an issue, Avalos said, “From both, that the incident that happened before had been talked about between them.”

Vasilyeva, a city employee in the Department of Emergency Management, has worked on several political campaigns for progressive candidates, including the 2006 campaign to re-elect District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly and the 2010 campaign to elect Debra Walker to District 6 Supervisor.

Vasilyeva, 28, told the SFWeekly that Davis, 33, touched her beneath her clothing during a pub-crawl in the Mission District during the Daly re-election campaign.  Vasilyeva was a paid staffer on the campaign; Davis was a volunteer.  Vasilyeva did not report the incident to police and neither Daly nor his campaign manager, Bill Barnes, who were made aware of Vasilyeva’s complaint by Vasilyeva, reprimanded Davis or asked him to leave the campaign.

Vasilyeva went on the record with SFWeekly after the San Francisco Bay Guardian endorsed Davis as its number one pick in the ranked choice race.  Its endorsement referenced Davis’ personal life in his 20s as “not always admirable.”

Davis said he was made aware of SFWeekly’s interest in Vasilyeva’s allegation on October 10 prompting him to send the cease-and-desist letter October 12 to Vasilyeva. SFWeekly ran with the story October 15.

The cease-and-desist letter is “way past the line” because it suggests Davis “was trying to silence someone,” Avalos said. “The allegation may not be true, but a cease-and-desist letter when something like this comes forward when you’re running for public office, doesn’t show good form.”

A cease-and-desist letter is a letter demanding that the recipient refrain from a certain behavior or face legal action, according to its legal definition.  Some types of behaviors that may prompt such letters include libel and slander.

Referring to his endorsement of Davis, Avalos said, “I don’t think it was the right decision in hindsight because I don’t think he’s been really able to take responsibility and listen to women – and he probably needs to.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Davis acknowledges his past mistakes with some women with whom he “may have crossed boundaries,” but denies he has ever sexually assaulted anyone and is calling into question the timing of Vasilyeva’s allegation, less than three weeks before Election Day.

Avalos, who ran a positive campaign in last year’s race for mayor, finishing second and garnering more votes in District 5 than any other candidate, including Mayor Ed Lee, said Davis should consider dropping out of the race.

“I think it makes sense that Julian really considers dropping out,” Avalos said.

Asked to comment on Avalos’ request that he consider withdrawing his candidacy, Davis said, “I am done commenting on this. I do not wish to criticize one of my allies, John Avalos.”

Luke Thomas is a resident of District 6. As a professional photographer, he has supplied photography services to several campaigns in this election cycle including Davis’ campaign.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • Guest

    Avalos isn’t a lawyer, and he is in horrendous error about good/bad form in this case ethically, politically, legally, humanistically, and feministically. Possible defamation commonly triggers a cease & desist, which is a very responsible action. Truth isn’t defamatory; a true declaration is fine. Both voices shall not be silenced.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503764865 Paul Hogarth

      As a lawyer, I can tell you that a defamation lawsuit (such as the one Julian threatened against Kay) would likely be thrown out as a SLAPP suit — strategic lawsuit against public participation — as the threat was clearly designed to intimidate Kay, and make her shut up. 

      Bottom-line is, if Kay reasonably believes that what she said was true, Julian wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if he sued her.  As a public figure (and running for political office doesn’t get more “public figure” than that), the standard for defamation is very high — and Julian must prove that Kay is intentionally and maliciously spreading lies.  Even if what she says didn’t actually happen, but Kay genuinely believes that it did, his case would be thrown out — and he’d be in trouble for intimidating someone’s First Amendment right.

      That’s a legal analysis.  Politically, what Julian did was so completely bone-headed and ridiculous that the law doesn’t matter — it killed his campaign for Supervisor over night.

      • HankEssay

        “..Politically, what Julian did was so completely bone-headed and
        ridiculous that the law doesn’t matter — it killed his campaign for
        Supervisor over night…”

        Exactly. And it is why he doesn’t deserve to be a Supervisor, let alone dog catcher. Anyone with that type of personally destructive decision making ability needs to be kept as far away from the civic square as possible..

        • MistOfTheCity

          Agreed. It was a stupid move but not deserving of your call for removal from politics. You are exactly the person Rosebudblue above was describing. You are no different that Davis in so quickly to form knee-jerk reactions.

      • http://twitter.com/pinkbarrio rosa barrio

        “… it killed his campaign for Supervisor over night.”

        It did?  Really?  I hadn’t heard that.  I mean, I’ve read comments from people wishing and hoping that’s the case, but other than that I’ve read no credible information from any independent source confirming that. 

        Do you have a credible link to that information?  He is still in the campaign.  I just did several google searches and see nothing about this having killed his campaign.  I suspect this is a case of wishful-thinking that it has killed his campaign over night.

        According to Google, as of this writing nothing has been written about this subject or the D5 campaign since October 16th.  The most recent item that comes up about Christina Olague is October 12th.  I searched for a poll of District 5 candidates.  Nada. 

        So I don’t know how anyone would know with such certainty that this has killed his campaign.  I suspect it’s those who oppose him are putting that out there and hoping it will stick.  But of all the D5 voters, how many are even paying attention to any of it?  Frankly, I think most people are too busy texting and partying.  This topic is not on their screens.

        • MistOfTheCity

          Has any campaign done an internal poll. Maybe that’s what prompted all this.

      • MistOfTheCity

        Hogarth, didn’t you just pass the bar about 12 months before Davis did? You not really one to speak as just students. Oh, sorry, maybe you had one or two cases your employer gave you.

  • clownwatcher

    Julian is utterly wrong for what he did six years ago. Kay is just as wrong as Julian, if not more IMO, for being so vindictive to wait six until until the perfect political moment to go public. This is not something that just hit her. A week before she went to the gaurdian she spoke with Julian in all smiles asking him how things were going and offering advice for his campaign(this is hearsay but everything in regards to this is). Julian and Kay have seen each other a lot in the past six years. She has had plenty of opportunity to come forward with this and if it was really bothering her she would have. What she is doing is IMO clear defamation. Its a no brainer.

    I have no comment about Avalos because I do not even want to go there. All Im going to say is that when you endorse someone you should really mean it. I take any future endorsements from this guy very lightly. All he is basing his thoughts on our he said she said. He obviously is siding with her on this but has it even slightly occurred to him that she is lying or exaggerating the accusation. Wheres the proof? What would a judge decide in this situation?

    Juilans actions make me sick. Kays actions make me sick, and Avalos unashamedly display of his integrity makes me even more sick. From a completely unbiased standpoint, I would have to say Julian makes me the least sick here because what he did was six years ago and I have not heard of any other girls coming out about any recent occurrences of sliminess. …I could not count on my fingers how many people I have known in the past who have come on strong to the opposite sex. I know I have had my rear grabbed at least ten times in my life time by a female. Not right, but lets put the charge here into perspective. Avalos is showing his true colors here by going so public with all of. A real politician would know to keep his mouth shut until his emotions calm down. Though Im glad Avalos is making a bafoon of himself in public by showing how much hearsay can influence his decisions.

    Take a two week break Avalos. Each time you go public with your opinion you are hurting the progressive community. Enough is enough about this. Move on. Your lack of integrity regarding your endorsements is out. Get over it. I believe that is one thing that is driving you towards these Juilian attacks. Your insecurity knowing that you are spineless. You, the gaurdian, campos, and anyone else who dropped the endorsement over mere hearsay.  Really?!!

    -not a Juilan fan, not in Distrct 5 and at this point could really care less about who gets in as I think the bad seed has already spread. I do however would like to see the progressive community have at least small cojones. …Gonzalez is showing integrity. No one else listed here is.

  • http://twitter.com/pinkbarrio rosa barrio

    It’s interesting the hypocrisy/duplicity of our society.  Someone can do what Julian is alleged to have done and there are multiple calls for him to withdraw his candidacy.  Did the allegation involve killing anyone?  No.  Nothing like that.

    Then when the White House resident drones innocent people and kills them throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, no one calls on him to “withdraw his candidacy.”  Allegedly groping someone is far tamer than killing innocent people with drones.  And there are no “allegations” involved here, but rather facts about Mr Drones’ barbaric droning policies.  But in this case, Mr Hopey-Changey is not withdrawing his candidacy (and no one has asked him to) but rather he’s the nominee and people are falling all over themselves making excuses for him to vote for him and there are chants of “four more years” (of killing innocent people and the status quo). And I suspect most of those calling on Julian to withdraw will be voting for Mr Change/Drone.

    Someone said the other day that Julian’s candidacy is all over.  To me that seemed like a premature thing to say.  He’s still in the campaign and assuming he stays in the campaign, he might do very well.  Many people don’t have any attention span and can’t remember just 2 days ago, so who will remember these allegations in upcoming weeks (other than the few who pay close attention to all this stuff)?

  • James Hooper

    Farewell Julian, you’re done in this town!  Maybe consider the advice of your biggest supporter who have also revoked their endorsement, the SF Bay Guardian:

    http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/10/16/davis-needs-drop-out

    “Davis can’t win. He’s embarrassing his former allies. He needs to focus
    on coming to terms with his past and rebuilding his life. And for the
    good of the progressive movement, he needs to announce that he’s ending
    his campaign, withdrawing from the race, and urging his supporters to
    vote for another candidate”

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.scott.37669 Craig Scott

    People’s reactions to this are based on stereotypes of race more than
    facts. When people have had some time to reflect on this, many will be
    regret what they’ve done.

    Everyone has a right to tell someone
    to shut up when they tell lies, including a black man. People seem so
    eager to jump to the conclusion that this black man is sexually out of
    control and when he tried to defend his character he became the problem.

    The facts against Davis are few compared to Mirkarimi and progressives punish the black man and rally for the white man. A real double standard. Why?

    Racism is in play here, big time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

      Ross is not what I’d call “a white guy.”  That famous tan is very becoming but, unless I’m mistaken, it’s not a tan.   He’s a dark skinned Iranian American, his wife Venezuelan.  Did you hear Mitt Romney on Tuesday saying he was going to make “us” energy independent of A-rabs and Venezuelans?  

      • http://twitter.com/pinkbarrio rosa barrio

        Ugh.  That’s what he said eh?  I don’t watch these faux debates especially since I can’t stand looking at either candidate.  Regarding the faux debates:

        Obama prepares protracted Afghanistan occupation
        http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/oct2012/pers-o20.shtml

        (Of course NATO is newsspeak for Estados Unidos/U.S.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

    Meanwhile David Lee may be about to defeat Eric Mar in D1, with his half million dollar campaign chest, then do serious damage to rent control, which would radically change San Francisco.  

  • Rosebluebird

    One problem here is that those in the business of presenting facts to the public (i.e. journalists) fail to present them.  Politicians spin and in the absence of facts we’re stuck listening to a rehash of their “vision” or more likely their benchmark survey.  Sorry Luke but this is another example of “apologetic” journalism where the elected official gets another opportunity to rationalize a decision. Instead this story confirms existing bias and conventional wisdom constructed on short term, narrow self interest and calculations which rarely works too well for progressives and free thinkers.
    The Davis-Vacilyeva story is now in its 6th day and the public still does not know the date of the alleged incident, time, name or location of the bar, how much alcohol and/or whether narcotics were present, the clothing that was worn, whether others were present or what others and/or these two were doing prior to the alleged incident or afterwards.  Critical context is lacking.  The SF Weekly’s factual description has it  “Vasilyeva says that Davis grew “handsy,” and during a campaign bar-crawl, he then touched her beneath her clothing in an unwelcome physical advance.” Is that a pinky under a scarf, a finger under a belt loop or a hand beneath a dress.  These facts are all unknown. That should be a problem for a true journalist.  They are not for the apologist.
    In the absence of facts and detail, the reader is free to project their own garbage onto both individuals which is most of what is for offer on this and the SFBG blog where Trolls 1 through 99 hold sway. 
    All the facts could well be damning for Davis, but to cut someone in this manner as the remains of the progressive “community” has chosen to do is the moral equivalent of stoning by lottery. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

    @John:disqus  Avalos: I think you’re sincere about this, but I’ve run out of energy for public personal politics and I’m more interested in how the D5 race is going to affect the politics of City Hall in a wealthy, influential city like San Francisco, where corporations and developers have so long dominated City Hall.  
    Where do Julian Davis and Christina Olague stand on municipal banking?  It may be that I haven’t had time to listen carefully, but I can’t help hearing about this and I haven’t heard a word about that during that in D5 or the other fiercely contested race: D1.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.davis.9085 George Davis

    Groping is such a touchy subject.

  • rosebluebird

    It is a contrived explanation for the “mass exodus”  to conflate James Wagstaffe’s cease and desist letter with intimidation or the suppression of First Amendment rights.  The only speech that could be shuttered from such a letter would be a lie. 
     
    Trumpted up charges against political opponents was a standard tool in the box for most of the 20th Centuries worst regimes. It put Deng Xiaoping in Mongolia waiting tables. It is not unknown here in San Francisco.  Just ask Terence Hallinan about his 1992 race for the Board of Supervisors.
     
    The bottom line is an allegation, even one six years old, and to date supported with thin factual evidence will be sufficient to change an endorsement in this case.  The SFBG, politicians and groups have just gone through 10 months of the Mirkarimi case and are 1 week on from the tense suspension vote.  This is a time to limit political exposure. 

    So the political attractiveness of this pretext is welcom cover for political actors whose interest is not served by trying to find out what actually happened between Kay Vasilyeva and Julian Davis in 2006.  Their interests are protected by having Davis and the story die quickly. 
     
    Move along folks, there is nothing to see here…
     
     

  • h. brown

    Redman and Jones?

       They’ll be pink-slipped by the Examiner for Xmas.

    They could go to Daly’s Dive and complain but there won’t be no more Daly’s Dive.

    Stick with the Giants.

    In an hour and a half!!

    h.