Mayor Steve Ly issues statement following dust-up with former campaign manager who alleged intimidation

This afternoon Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly released a statement following an allegation leveled at him by a former campaign manager who said she had been threatened by an individual tied to the mayor.

Ly's statement stems from a story published by Elk Grove Tribune this morning by Linda Vwj (pronounced Vue). In her story, Ms. Vwj claimed that after she criticized a recent social media post by Ly, she received threatening calls from people she claimed were associated with the mayor.

Ly's social media post was on June 2 regarding a pallet fire in South Sacramento that destroyed a Hmong-owned small business. In his post on Facebook Ly sought the public's assistance for the business owner through a GoFundMe fundraiser. 

The fire happened on the same night rioting was happening in Downtown and Midtown Sacramento as a result of the George Floyd protests. Several commenters interpreted Ly comments as linking the pallet fire to looting and expressed displeasure that, in their interpretation, he associated the event with the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

After receiving the criticism, Ly removed the post from his Facebook page. Among those people criticizing the comments was Vwj, who was Ly's campaign manager in 2016 when he won his first two-year term as mayor.    

In her story, Vwj said the business owner claimed there was no evidence that the fire that destroyed their establishment was tied to that evening's rioting. Vwj wrote " The family communicated on their GoFundMe page that 'At this time, we do not know the cause of the fire so please refrain from making assumptions.'"

Following that, Vwj said she was contacted by male members of the Hmong-American community (both Ly and Vwj are of Hmong ancestry) pressuring her to delete her criticism. From there, Vwj said she was contacted by "an unknown Hmong man requesting a callback. I already knew what he wanted to discuss, but still I texted to ask “What do you want?”

As she described it, the caller "Eavah Vue,  who she said identified himself as the president of Local Chapter of Vue National Association of Sacramento and Representative of the Vue Clan in Sacramento."

Vwj wrote "He threatened me to remove my Facebook posts about Steve Ly. If I did not comply, there would be issues coming my way. He stated that this was a “request” by the Lee (Ly) Clan/Family in Sacramento after Ly reached out to his people to complain about my posts. Vue’s exact words were: 'Linda, the Lee clan just confirm that mayor Steve Ly complained about your post.'" 

As she described it, Vwj says the Hmong culture is a patriarchal society organized among 18 clans where "older Hmong men have predominantly been the voices in the Hmong clan system." Vwj also wrote that "Ly chose the Hmong clan system to settle his issue with me because he knows that the system was built by men to protect men. It is a failed system that has been heavily criticized for its role in gender-based violence in the Hmong community and Ly used that to his advantage."

In his statement (entire statement below). Ly said that made aware of the threats against Vwj and that he condemned them calling them cowardly.

Ly then said " To suggest that I am sending people to threaten anyone is false. People should be able to share their thoughts without the fear of harm to them or their loved ones." 

In her piece, Vwj said he contacted Elk Grove Police regarding the call. Elk Grove Police Public Information Officer Jason Jimenez acknowledged the department received information about the call but stressed a report had not been filed and that no further information could be released at this time.

Ly said following this morning's publication he contacted the Elk Grove Tribune and the police department and that "I am supporting a full and thorough investigation of this matter."

He also acknowledged the patriarchy, specifically in the Hmong community, is a real problem" and that he has been involved in finding solutions. Ly also pointed out that women have been involved in his campaign. In addition to Vwj managing Ly's 2016 mayoral campaign, Sacramento City School Board Trustee and current Sacramento City Council candidate Mae Vang ran Ly's successful 2014 Elk Grove City Council campaign.

As for the original post, Ly acknowledged he removed the post saying "the comments got out of hand with people attacking each other. In one of my comments, I clarified that this incident was not tied to the larger, peaceful movement for Black Lives."

In response to Ly's statement, Vwj said he was unwilling "to take accountability for his actions and involvement in the threats and harassment of myself and other women."

She also asserted "that the primary person engaged in threatening and reprehensible behavior is Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly." 


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5 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Nixon thought he had his plumber's tracks covered pretty good. How did that work out for him?

Randy Bekker said...

Shameful conduct by the Mayor. A simple I am sorry in the beginning could of stopped any of this but at this point I believe the woman as there are 2 of them. It might be best that the Mayor steps down as a full investigation needs to be done as we don’t need the city dragged through a personal matter of the Mayor. Where is Mr.Shergill? Where is his Op-Ed? As he an others that are Mayor Ly’s supporters an Champions for woman rights, The Me Too movement an I Believe Her. I would think Mr.Shergill would want to get behind this an help correct a wrong that Mayor Ly has found himself in. I implore Mr. Shergill to convince the Mayor to resign. It is in everyone interest that he step down right away. This issue is not going to go away any time soon.

Spoons and Forks said...

I can't believe it, but Randy and I have sort of found some common ground.

Yes, if the claims are about Steve Ly are accurate, there should be some consequences, especially if there are criminal aspects to the incident. If there are no criminal findings - if it is even investigated as such - the other four council members should censure the mayor, and then let Elk Grove voters decide if this is acceptable behavior.

If this is a non-criminal matter, I wonder if the city council would be willing to stick out their necks?

White Hat said...

I'm with Randy and Spoons, Elk Grove doesn't need a scandal like this. It's time for Mayor Ly to step down.

Atticus Finch said...

Before we get ahead of ourselves and start playing Jim Morrison's "The End", let's not forget Ly's penchant for navigating bad choices/decisions and coming out smelling like roses. Who else travels (when leisure traveling was allowed)with an entourage that included a photographer? This latest incident is too convoluted and easily deflected by Ly because he has plausible deniability. He did nothing wrong. At worst, he is guilty of subscribing to long held, outdated, archaic, misogynistic cultural beliefs.

His close ties to the Hmong/Mien community is what helped him get where he is today. He won't be quick to disavow them now or in the near future. However, he may attempt to put some daylight between himself and a few of his supporters without sacrificing much.

This will just be another blip on the political radar and quickly forgotten by November, if not before. Voters are apathetic to this sort of "transgression". I prefer to think of this episode as "People are Strange" by Jim Morrison. I wonder what sort of lesson this teaches Ly's kids? The divide between a culture that normalizes degrading women and the me too movement for gender equality is not so far apart any longer. By and large, a similar situation prevails in society. Perhaps a conversation that is avoided in the Ly household and many others?

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