Ravel campaign comments on “significant development” in Santa Clara County corruption probe
San Jose, CA – State Senate candidate Ann Ravel today called on her opponent, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, to return $2,500 in political donations he has received from Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith and Undersheriff Rick Sung. Smith is one of Cortese’s most important political allies and one of two Santa Clara County elected officials to endorse his campaign.
The Mercury News recently reported on the latest development in the ongoing bribery probe connected to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s inner circle. Court documents allege Sheriff Smith’s office issued gun permits in exchange for a $90,000 donation to her reelection campaign. Both Smith and her number 2, Undersheriff Sung, invoked the 5th Amendment to avoid answering questions about the corruption scandal when testifying before a grand jury.
This is not the first time Ravel has called on Cortese to return campaign contributions related to this bribery scheme. Cortese previously was forced to return contributions made by Christopher Schumb to Cortese’s state senate campaign. Cortese quietly redirected thousands of dollars to charity after Schumb was indicted.
According to campaign finance reports, Cortese’s current state senate campaign received two separate $1,000 donations from Sheriff Laurie Smith in May 2019 and May 2020 and a $500 contribution from Undersheriff Rick Sung in November 2018. However, paperwork filed by Smith shows that the contributions came from her 2018 reelection campaign committee. The funds sent to Cortese are the committee’s only candidate donations shown during those reporting periods.
Ravel’s campaign manager, Andrew Berthelsen, issued the following statement:
“Voters are tired of the same-old, pay-to-play politics, whether here in Santa Clara County or in Sacramento. As Governor Brown’s choice to lead the Fair Political Practices Commission and President Obama’s appointee to the Federal Election Commission, Ann Ravel has built her career on stopping corruption in elections and assuring ethics in government. She is the only candidate in this race with the integrity to work for everyone, and to put the public interest before special interests.”
Despite the growing scandal, Smith remains prominently listed on Cortese’s campaign website as an endorser.