Editor's note: The Citizen staff learned on Sept. 17 that Bobbie Singh-Allen's campaign misattributed a recording at the Sept. 15 press conference. Mia Foster did not make the recorded remarks at the Elk Grove City Council's Sept. 9 meeting. The statement was made by Mai Tou.
Elk Grove mayoral candidate Bobbie Singh-Allen on Sept. 15 announced that she received a death threat from a stranger through her personal Facebook page.
Singh-Allen is also one of two candidates who are challenging Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly in this November’s election. Ly has served as the city’s mayor since 2016, when he became the nation’s first Hmong mayor.
While standing alongside Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, a former Elk Grove City Council member and one of her endorsers for mayor, at a Sept. 15 press conference outside Elk Grove City Hall, Singh-Allen commented on the Facebook message she said she received earlier that day.
“I woke up this morning to a message in my personal Facebook from a person I don’t know, by the name of Kong Lee,” she said. “The message was extremely offensive.”
That message, which was shared with the news media, refers to Singh-Allen as having made a racist comment, and it concludes, “Hope you die slow.”
Singh-Allen said that her concern for the safety of herself and her family grew when she viewed a recent photograph of several high caliber rifles and boxes of ammunition on Lee’s Facebook profile page.
“I shared the messages and the pictures with the Elk Grove Police Department right away and they are looking into the matter,” she said.
Cooper, a former Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department captain, said that this threat should be taken seriously.
“I think any threat you take serious these days,” he said. “Someone is posting online, wishing someone would die, posting firearms and ammunition. If it happened to a high school student or college students, law enforcement would be at their house right now talking to them.
“It’s one of those things you have to treat as a possibility in this day and age, because you just don’t know. People do dumb things every day.”
Singh-Allen is also one of a few local women who claim they were harassed by Ly’s associates or supporters over the past few years. Those allegations include claims that Ly used the Hmong familial clan system to complete such actions.
Last July, Singh-Allen used her personal Facebook page to share her claim that she was harassed by Ly’s Hmong associates after she was appointed to the Elk Grove school board in 2012. She mentioned that she believes that alleged action occurred because she endorsed Ly’s school board opponent, Jake Rambo. Ly defeated the incumbent Rambo in that year’s election.
Singh-Allen and Ly served together on the Elk Grove school board until 2014, when Ly was elected to the Elk Grove City Council.
Several days before making her first harassment claim, Singh-Allen used her personal Facebook page to refer to the Hmong familial clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence these women.”
She made that comment in support of another local woman, who claimed that she was harassed by associates of the mayor.
Others alleging that they were harassed by Ly’s associates at different times include Elk Grove School Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza, and Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno. Espinoza ran against Ly in the 2014 Elk Grove City Council race and she claimed that Ly’s associates created a whisper campaign to harm her reputation.
Ly has continuously denied that he had his associates harass the accusers and has stated that he does not condone anyone who engages in disrespectful and harmful behavior toward women or people, in general.
In a media statement issued on Aug. 7, Ly expressed sympathy for those who claim that they were harassed, and stated that he believed they were harassed.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering they have endured,” he wrote.
Singh-Allen, during her press conference, also referred to Ly as “gaslighting” the Hmong community. She alleged that he told a different message to the Hmong language media last month.
“These are the consequences of Mr. Ly gaslighting his Hmong community, saying in English to his council colleagues and the media he believes the stories of Elk Grove women of harassment that involve him, stories like mine and other local elected women and private citizens,” she said.
“And then turning around and saying to Hmong media in Hmong that these stories are rumors, lies and political attacks of women jealous of him.”
Ly told the Citizen last week that he had two people translate the same Hmong media interviews and compare them to the translation presented to Singh-Allen.
Ly was asked if he made statements to the Hmong media that contradicted what he said to American media.
“That’s not true,” he said. “If they had a qualified and capable interpreter, they would see that what I said (to the Hmong) media would be consistent with what I said (to the American media).”
Pablo Espinosa, Singh-Allen’s campaign manager, defended the interpretation provided to Singh-Allen.
“Mr. Ly has said to the Elk Grove Citizen that he has other people that have translated,” he said. “Well, his people are friends. Friends maybe OK, but we have certification that is notarized of the validity and the fact that this translator (is) court accepted.
“Having said that, we have also proposed to Steve Ly, in the interest of transparency and to eliminate any dispute to lighting up a greater fire, let’s find a mutually acceptable translator.”
Cooper commented on Ly’s alleged differing comments to Hmong media outlets.
“When the mayor acknowledged what happened to the women, and then turns around and says they’re liars, that doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.
Singh-Allen also used her press conference to criticize Elk Grove resident Mia Foster, one of three Hmong community members who organized a protest rally against Singh-Allen at the Elk Grove Unified School District headquarters on Aug. 28.
The event, which was attended by about 150 people, was organized after Ali Moua, an attorney who is running for the City Council’s District 1 seat this November, sent a demand letter to the school district.
The letter provided three options, one of which was for Singh-Allen to apologize for her allegedly derogatory comments about the Hmong community. Another option was for her to resign from the school board.
In its response letter to Moua, the district dismissed the issue as a city election political matter.
Pausing her speech at the press conference, Singh-Allen played an audio recording from the Sept. 9 City Council meeting, in which Foster criticized her words about the Hmong community.
In that recording, Foster claims that Singh-Allen made racist and bigoted statements.
“Unlike the unproven allegations against Mayor Ly, her racist and bigoted statements spew out and continue to do so out of her inseparable, ignorant, and arrogant mouth,” Foster said during the Aug. 28 council meeting.
Singh-Allen responded to Foster’s comments.
“These are clear examples of the consequences of direct or indirect actions of Mayor Ly,” she said. “Of his support of folks like Mia Foster’s unfounded accusations of racism towards me.”
Singh-Allen further commented on accusations that she made racist comments.
“It is unconscionable to levy false accusations and weaponize racism in this climate, to fan the flames of the real suffering going on,” she said. “It makes a mockery of both the victims of racism and those working to dismantle it.”
Singh-Allen concluded her speech at the press conference by expressing her support for the Hmong community.
“I also, as I have said before, continue to feel a great deal of sorrow and empathy towards the Hmong community,” she said. “Not only for anything I may have said, that out of context were hurtful, but also for the pain they are suffering because they continue to be misled by people in their own community, like Steve Ly.”