By Erin Woo
Michele Dauber, the Stanford Law School professor who led the successful effort to recall former judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85, announced on Monday the creation of the Enough is Enough Voter Project. The initiative aims to end the careers of politicians who have been accused of sexual misconduct or whom the group believes have voted or acted against women’s interests in the past.
“There is a serious problem, particularly at the state and local level, with elected officials who have been credibly accused of these kinds of behaviors but have never been held accountable because the voters lack the information because [the elected officials] operate below the radar of the national media,” Dauber said. “We decided that this was a good opportunity to launch an organization that would make independent expenditures in those races in order to make sure voters are fully informed about this issue.”
In the six weeks before the midterm elections, Enough is Enough aims to galvanize #MeToo movement support to raise $250,000 to conduct research and publicize information on these candidates.
“[$250,000] is a tiny amount of money for a political action committee — I mean, they have millions,” Dauber said. “But the great thing about doing these state legislature races is that $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 — that’s a game-changing amount of money in some of these places.”
Dauber emphasized that Enough is Enough has been laying groundwork for the midterm elections all summer, but she declined to share how much money the group has already raised.
Currently, its website features five candidates for state and congressional races: a California state representative from the 26th district accused of sexual harassment; a Minnesota congressman who has been nicknamed “Mini-Trump” for his statements against women, LGBT people and minorities; a North Carolina congressional candidate accused of domestic abuse; a Tennessee state legislator and former high school basketball coach accused of sexually abusing three of his players; and a state legislator from Texas who has voted against increased protections for sexual assault victims. All five candidates have denied any wrongdoing.
Although the currently listed candidates are Republicans, Dauber, one of five members on Enough is Enough’s Board of Directors, has said that the group has already participated in two Democratic primaries and plans to target Democratic candidates in the 2020 primaries as well. The organization conceded that campaigns against Democratic candidates would most likely occur at the primary level.
“The Republicans we selected as a focus of our campaign have all been attacked by their own party,” Dauber said. “These people aren’t even wanted by their own party; no one wants them. I think that the bipartisan nature of criticism against these individuals makes it clear that this is not an issue of right and left. It’s an issue of right and wrong.”
The Enough is Enough website also includes a form for members of the public to report a candidate, including spaces for links and files that document any emerging allegations.
This is not Dauber’s first fight against elected officials viewed as unfavorable to women’s issues. Dauber spent two years campaigning to remove Persky, the former Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who in 2016 sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months for sexual assault, from the bench.
Dauber cited the Recall Persky Campaign as a primary inspiration for Enough is Enough.
“Women voters, particularly young women voters, voters of color and lower-income voters, were really energized around the issue of rape culture as a voting issue,” Dauber said. “When the results came in, we found that we won that election for 24 points, which is a really large margin, particularly in a campaign where both sides were pretty well-resourced.”
Despite the recall movement’s success, Dauber received personal backlash, including death and rape threats. She said she has already received similar threats due to the creation of Enough is Enough.
“In general, apart from that more aggressive misogyny, most of the feedback has been positive,” Dauber said. “It’s happening in a really polarized political climate; it’s happening in the middle of this Kavanaugh nomination. But the vast majority of people I’ve interacted with have been very positive.”
The announcement of Enough is Enough arrives as Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces multiple allegations of sexual assault, including one from Stanford affiliate Christine Blasey Ford.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that both the Recall Persky Campaign and the anti-recall effort were well-researched, when in fact Professor Dauber said that both were well-resourced. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.