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Author: Don Obrien

Push to recall DA Ravitch gets another financial boost


The campaign to recall Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has received yet another boost from its only financial backer.

Developer Bill Gallaher on Thursday donated another $96,000 to the Recall Ravitch campaign, bringing his total to more than $1.7 million, according to new campaign finance reports.

Gallaher remains the campaign’s only contributor.

The recall campaign’s finances dwarf the pro-Ravitch campaign, which reported received around $107,551 in total contributions.

Gallaher launched the campaign last year after Ravitch’s office sued one of his companies, Oakmont Senior Living, for abandoning elderly residents at two Santa Rosa senior homes during the 2017 Tubbs fire.

Ravitch’s supporters say Gallaher’s recall push is an act of revenge, while the recall campaign has accused Ravitch of misdeeds including corrupt hiring practices and a failure to disclose conviction rates. Ravitch has denied all accusations.

Election Day is Sept. 14.

In-person voting kicked off last week at the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters office at 435 Fiscal Drive in Santa Rosa. Mail-in ballots have also begun arriving in voters’ mailboxes.

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Sept. 14 or postmarked by that day and received at the registrar’s within seven days.

Last fall, Ravitch announced her plans to retire when her current four-year term ends next year.

There is no candidate opposing Ravitch on the ballot, but attorney Omar Figueroa has joined the election as a write-in candidate.

Though he has criticized Ravitch over the years in his defense practice, Figueroa said he does not support the recall and is running as a “backup candidate.”

If the recall succeeds, only a write-in candidate could receive votes.

So far the recall campaign has spent its funds on glossy mailings, targeted Facebook ads, political consultants, polling and radio ads. Recent radio ads and mailings target Ravitch over her brother’s 2015 vehicular manslaughter charge and sentencing in Napa County.

Following a fatal 2015 car crash during a vintage car rally in Napa County, Ravitch’s brother, John Ravitch, was sentenced to two years of summary probation between 2016 and 2018, 15 days in jail and 120 hours in a work program.

The ads insinuate John received a light sentence because of his sister, but Ravitch has denied any involvement with her brother’s case.

A spokesperson for the Napa County District Attorney’s Office also said Ravitch was not involved with the case.

Brandon Cho, treasurer for the recall campaign, did not immediately respond to The Press Democrat’s request for comment when contacted via phone and email.

This week, Ravitch’s supporters have struck out at the recall effort with a mailing of their own. Urging voters to “reject revenge,” their mailing accuses Gallaher of spending over $1.5 million “selling his lies.”

The recall campaign may have the financial edge, but voters are voting “no” on the recall “once they learn the truth,” said Terry Price, chair of Voters Opposed to Recalling Jill Ravitch.

A recent Press-Democrat poll showed that voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the recall by a nearly 2-1 majority. The survey of 500 registered voters showed that 47% opposed the recall while 26% support.

You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or emma.murphy@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MurphReports.



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