Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) left his home state on Thursday to solicit donations from a group of Hollywood millionaires, including an attorney who worked to minimize financial damages available for young victims of sexual abuse.
Among the hosts of Ryan's Senate fundraiser is Mitchell Kamin, a high-powered Los Angeles-based litigator. His clients include the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which in 2020 attempted to avoid paying damages to the victims of former U.S. women's national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in 2017 of systematically sexually abusing women and girls.
Holding fundraisers with wealthy attorneys 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 once argued that authorities did not have to release video depicting police killing an underage black man.
Nassar's victims sued the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for knowing about Nassar's conduct but failing to notify authorities. Senior U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials were aware of sexual abuse allegations against Nassar for a year before his victims spoke out publicly, court documents show, but declined to remove him from the organization.
In court arguments made by Kamin, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee had no legal responsibility to disclose this fact to authorities. That would mean the organization doesn't have to pay a single cent to Nassar's victims, who include girls as young as 15 years old. Despite the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee's knowledge of Nassar's abuse, Nassar continued treating young athletes at Michigan State for a year.
"The reason why these cases exist in the first place is because these institutions—including the [U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee]—operated under a veil of secrecy and lack transparency that allowed sexual assault to fester," the victims' attorneys said in a statement during litigation. "It seems that the [U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee] has learned nothing, hopes to change nothing, and seeks a free pass from the court in return for multiple press releases containing platitudes yet no substantive change."
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 J.D. Vance, the decision to attend a fundraiser in Los Angeles is a peculiar one. Over the course of several months, Ryan has repeatedly labeled Vance a carpetbagger from California. Ryan's campaign in August started an online video series called HillBilly On The Street, in which a young staffer roams the streets of Middletown, Ohio, asking about Vance's whereabouts. Another video features a Ryan staffer carrying around a surfboard at the Ohio State Fair, a jab at Vance's earlier career in San Francisco.
Other hosts of Ryan's Los Angeles fundraiser include Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss and anti-Israel activist Lisa Greer.
Earlier this month, Ryan was caught with 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 off against Vance in November for the Senate seat occupied by retiring Republican Rob Portman. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls finds Vance leading by over 1 point. The site rates the race as "Leans GOP."