Richmond Mayor Faces Criticism for Newsletter Blasting Political Opponents

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt is facing criticism for calling out political opponents and doxing them in his regular email blasts to supporters. 

As first reported by the Richmond Confidential, the mayor accused Eli Moore and his wife, Claudia Jimenez, of violating Richmond's rent control law that went into effect last November. He included the couple's home address and aerial photographs of the property in the newsletter.

"[Jimenez and Moore are] scofflaw landlords who are violating a slew of laws in Richmond designed to protect renters as well as the safety of the community," Butt wrote, calling the couple "hypocritical" for allegedly renting out an in-law unit that violated city's new law. 

Jimenez is an ardent supporter of rent control and frequently campaigned for its passage during the 2016 election, while Butt did his best to squash it and spoke out against it dozens of times.

Butt defended his move on grounds that Moore, who works for the Haas Institute, and Jimenez, who is on the steering committee of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, are community activists and therefore public figures. The ACLU-NorCal is reportedly looking into the issue but did not return a request for comment. 

In an email, Jimenez denied that the in-law unit violated the city's rent control law and accused Butt of using his public position to attack the couple for opposing him on policy issues. She also said Butt has contacted her husband's employer about the issue.

"With the mayor's attacks, the message is that citizens who step up and take this kind of leadership will pay," Jimenez wrote. 

Butt often uses his newsletters to address grievances he has with fellow council members and the community at large. He recently chastised Councilmember Jovanka Beckles for her handling of a homophobic public speaker and previously used the platform to campaign against council member candidates. 

Read in-depth coverage of the dispute over at the Richmond Confidential.

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