Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) left his home state Thursday to solicit donations from a group of Hollywood millionaires, including an attorney who has worked to minimize the financial damages available to young victims of sexual abuse.
Among Ryan’s Senate fundraiser hosts is Mitchell Kamin, a high-profile L.A.-based litigator. Among its clients are the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which in 2020 tried to avoid paying damages to the victims of former United States women’s national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in 2017 of systematically sexually abusing women and girls.
Organizing fundraisers with wealthy lawyers who represent controversial clients has caused headaches for Democratic candidates in the past. Following outrage from left-wing activists, then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg canceled a 2019 fundraiser with a former Chicago city attorney who had once claimed authorities weren’t didn’t have to post a video showing the police killing an underage black man.
Nassar’s victims sued the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee for knowing about Nassar’s conduct but failing to report it to authorities. Senior US Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials knew about the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar for a year before his victims came forward publicly, according to court documents, but refused to remove him from the organization.
In the legal arguments presented by Kamin, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee had no legal responsibility to disclose this fact to authorities. This would mean the organization would not have to pay a single penny to Nassar’s victims, which include girls as young as 15. Despite the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s knowledge of Nassar’s abuse, Nassar continued to treat young athletes in Michigan State for a year.
“The reason these cases exist in the first place is that these institutions – including the [U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee]– operated under a veil of secrecy and lack of transparency that allowed the sexual assaults to spread,” lawyers for the victims said in a statement during the trial. “It seems that the [U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee] learned nothing, hopes to change nothing and asks for a court pass in exchange for several press releases containing platitudes but no substantive changes.”
A spokeswoman for Ryan did not respond to a request for comment.
For Ryan, who faces an uphill battle in his Senate bid against Republican JD Vance, the decision to attend a fundraiser in Los Angeles is a special one. Over the course of several months, Ryan repeatedly referred to Vance as California’s upholsterer. Ryan’s campaign in August launched an online video series titled HillBilly on the street, in which a young staff member walks the streets of Middletown, Ohio, asking where Vance is. Another video shows a member of Ryan’s staff carrying a surfboard to the Ohio State Fair, a blow to Vance’s earlier career in San Francisco.
Ryan’s other LA fundraiser hosts include game of thrones co-creator DB Weiss and anti-Israel activist Lisa Greer.
Earlier this month, Ryan was caught with an egg on his face after mocking Vance for attending a rally with former President Donald Trump instead of watching a football game between Ohio State University and the University of Toledo. The Daily Mail revealed that Ryan wasn’t watching the game either and attended a wedding instead.
Ryan will face Vance in November for the Senate seat held by retired Republican Rob Portman. A RealClearPolicies the average of recent polls finds Vance leading by more than 1 point. The site rates the race as “Leans GOP.”