Married or Not? Ethics Complaints Filed in D4 Race

Manh Nguyen has been somewhat candid about his unconventional relationship with his estranged wife. But questions about the San Jose City Council candidate’s marital status have prompted an erstwhile acquaintance to file a complaint with the city’s Ethics Commission.

Criminal defense attorney Minh Steven Dovan compiled a stack of legal papers—bankruptcy filings, a notarized deed and campaign finance forms—that indicate Nguyen sometimes claims he’s married and other times not.

“That’s perjury,” Dovan says, repeating the allegations listed in the ethics complaint he filed Monday. He further derided the candidate for a mailer—paid for by an independent committee, it should be noted—that depicts him as a family man, despite his non-traditional family unit(s).

San Jose Inside has reported before that, while still legally married, Nguyen has been technically separated from his wife for at least a decade. His campaign dismissed Dovan’s complaint as “specious.” On Tuesday, Nguyen issued a statement denouncing negative campaign tactics.

“This is the kind of deception and negative campaigning that makes voters tune out of politics and prevents good people from running for office,” said Nguyen, who runs his own Vietnamese-language broadcast and newspaper company—which also funds his campaign.

Nguyen is running against state legislative aide Tim Orozco—who has own personal issues after being popped twice for DUI—in the June 23 special election to replace Kansen Chu, who left District 4 for a seat in the Assembly.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Its already been proven that Manh In NOT an attorney , so wouldn’t that a bigger issue than his marital status , since he actually claims to be an attorney

  2. I think we’re making a mountain out of a molehill here.

    it should be noted—that depicts him as a family man, despite his non-traditional family unit(s).

    He still talks to his estranged wife. He still has his girlfriends on the side. They all know about each other. Are we suddenly taking a stab at plural relationships? Is Mr Dovan now deciding what does and doesn’t constitute a traditional family unit? Is Mr Manh and his lady friends incapable of defining their own relationships as consenting adults?

    Is that what you’re trying to say Mr Dovan?

    And Jen, this very newspaper has ENDORSED candidates in similar situations on several occasions. Why is it OK for other politicians to be in this situation, and not for others?

    If you don’t like Manh’s situation, you might as well hate on people having 2 moms, or 2 dads, or a mom that used to be a dad in the Jenners case.

    • According to Manh’s neighbors (full disclosure: my relatives), Manh had been separated from his wife for many years. If a couple is separated, they are clearly allowed to date others, right? Are we really faulting separated couple for dating others? Seriously?

      I am in agreeement with Robert here that we are making a mountain out of a mole hill though I don’t think Manh and his wife are actually having a plural relationship necessarily. At least from what I gather from my very gossipy aunt.

      More importantly, who Manh had dated or is dating has no bearing on his ability to function as a council member. What’s next? Is San Jose Inside going to write an article about Steven Dovon attacking Tim Orozco’s boyfriend when Dovon learns that Tim is gay? Seriously?

      Steven Dovon is a well known obnoxious, loudmouthed in the Vietnamese community. To give him this much space speaks volume about SJI’s lack of common sense.

  3. JW Please define ‘non-traditional family unit” for your readers. I for one would like to know what that is so that when I use the term I don’t offend or exclude ‘ family units’ that are “non-traditional’ by lumping them in with “traditional’ family units and vice versa…

  4. Being a LICENSED ATTORNEY in San Jose, myself, I find it disturbing for any person running for public office to claim to be an attorney in order to obtain additional votes, when he is not an attorney. Such deception places such a person’s veracity in doubt, which is of particular importance to voters given that he is requesting to hold public office and the public’s trust.

      • Same here, Robert. I have researched thoroughly and I can’t find it either. The left hook blog claimed that Manh had sent out a mailer claiming to be an attorney ( yet no one has seen this actual mailer OTHER than the Left Hook and Steven Dovon.

        I really want to see this mailer. Has any voter ever seen this mailer? Any actual voter?

        Are we to believed that Manh would create only two pieces of mail and would sent ONLY to the Left Hook and Steven Dovon?


        • It was an online ad. He blamed the Vietnamese media company that made it on mistakenly putting “Esq.” in there.

    • According to the Mercury: “Nguyen graduated from Lincoln Law School but failed the bar exam and never actually practiced law, though he worked as a paralegal.”

  5. Reading these comments is interesting. The world is really upside down when people defend a man who openly has a wife and a mistress. The fact that they all know about each other is really beyond the point. Clearly this is a man who practices situational ethics. He’ll do the same as a city council candidate, too. Of that we can all be sure. Character matters; his is showing.

    I’m shocked that a poster compared Manh Nguyen’s marital arrangement to that of same-sex couples. A same-sex couple didn’t chose their sexuality — it just happened to them, something they couldn’t control; whereas Mr. Nguyen’s adultery is a choice that he made.

    It’s a pity. I was planning to vote for Mr. Nguyen’s, but all these ethics issues are just too much for me. Claiming to be an attorney while not one? No. Having a wife and mistress(es)? No. Bankruptcy? No.

    What an unappetizing selection we District 4 voters have between a union-backed tool and an ethically challenged. man. Too bad Margie Matthews didn’t run.

    • I’m shocked you would call it adultery.

      His wife knows about these other women, yet she stays with him. Doesn’t matter what I compare it to, these are all consenting adults. Adults can have whatever type of relationship they want, be it monogamous or polyamorous. If they were FLDS’s practicing polygamy, would you be as judgmental?

      Manh’s culture (for that matter, a lot of Asian cultures) have polygamous constructs. Most, if not all had concubines, polygamy, wife #1 #2 #3, etc.

      You might want to read up on concubines during the Nguyen dynasty, or maybe the concubines of the last king Bao Dai. These constructs appear weird to you because our country is young, and the only polyamorous relationships that existed are frowned upon by our Judaeo Christian values. Could you imagine the uproar if one of our presidents (or the British monarchy for that matter) practiced polygamy?

      His wife is still with him. Technically if she was unhappy about it, she’d divorce him and take 1/2. Here’s some reading for you. Understand his peoples history and culture, and understand some but not all still practice the old world ways. I’m not defending him, I’m just pointing out that these types of relationships are almost par for the course in his culture.

      • Mr. Cortese, you’re “shocked” that I would call it adultery? Really ???

        Whoa there. He’s not in Vietnam anymore. He’s in America. (I also think some Vietnamese might take offense to your stereotyping of their culture.) And no, I wouldn’t view things differently if he were FLDS, or anything else for that matter. His character is showing. Enough said.

        Your line of reasoning is somewhat stupefying. What’s next? A candidate who practices Sharia and does an honor killing, but the voters are supposed to “understand” because it’s part of his culture?

        • Wow you really drove off the cliff there. Sharia killings? Obviously nobody wants to die as a result of Sharia law, but some people *might* want polyamorous relationships.

          As far as stereotyping, 3 things here, one factual, 2 anecdotal..

          1. , I provided links to literature that provides undeniable truth that it is a part of the Viet history.
          2, I worked for a couple that were Asian, and in a polyamorous relationship (they were Japanese, in their 80s, owned a karaoke bar) I worked for them 12 years, and knew the nature of their relationship well.
          3, despite being 4th generation Sicilian, I still cannot tear myself away from eating Italian food and practicing Catholocism. You want to throw out an ostrich argument, pretend there’s no such thing as people following their old world traditions, and keep your head buried in the sand? Your choice to be ignorant, not mine.

          The only thing in your banter that had any shred of truth to it was, “Here in “America!” we think it’s OK to tell grown adults how to handle their personal affairs, and shame them for having any sort of arrangement that goes “against the norm”

          I call BS. You only call it “against the norm” when it’s convenient for you. Convenience can be you’ve already made up your mind on who to vote for, and you wouldn’t want to be inconvenienced for being wrong.

          You’re going to disagree with me on this, and that’s fine, but Manh and the women in his life are all adults. What is he really guilty of? Not finishing his divorce papers? Dating other women 10 years after his separation? What if he didn’t finish his divorce papers to get his kids ahead in life? Are we still going to vilify the deed? From what I’ve read, he sounds like a really good father. This is a long term job, if he can turn out good kids, he can handle it.

          This country has come a long long way in the last 50 years when it comes to discrimination of consensual adult relationships. We’ve almost eliminated discrimination against homosexual relationships, Polygamy and polyamory are the last frontiers. Mark my word on this, you might not like it, but some Social Justice Warrior is going to start fighting for it when there’s nothing else to choose from.

          • Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

            SOMEBODY sure is interested in “polyamorous” relationships.

          • I’m just interested from the perspective of what our country historically does/does not consider ethical. Personally, I have a hard enough time keeping 1 woman happy, and wouldn’t want to be burdened with another. My hats off to the men and women that can juggle these relationships.

            FLDS wasn’t the only polyamorous culture destroyed by a bunch of bible thumpers. Look at what happened in Pacific Islander/Polynesian culture. Captain cook went all through there, scared them by saying the lifestyle will make them burn in hell for an eternity, and the only salvation would be to worship a dead guy on a stick who zombied back to life and floated into the sky a few days later.

            I mean, you keep saying, “OH HE’S ETHICALLY CHALLENGED DUE TO POLYAMORY” Please, enlighten me. Where does this ethic of yours come from? If not from religion, then where?

          • I can’t wait any longer, what’s your opinion on the living relation ship of our former president Bill, and our former Secretary of State, Hillary, and where is it going if we elect her president?

          • Yep, the gentleman doth protest too much, INDEED.

            And Mr. Cortese, I believe you when you say you have trouble keeping one woman happy.


          • Empty Gun, that’s a good question. Billary will probably rent out the Lincoln Bedroom. They won’t be using it themselves. Of that we can be sure.

          • @Empty Gun

            You bring up a really interesting dialog here. Where will it go? If we really want to get down to the nitty gritty of what Labor’s accusations are against Manh.. It’s slut shaming. They haven’t all out called him a “slut” yet, but the insinuation is there.

            Where is DAMN? (Democratic Activists for Men Now.. Hehe, play on DAWN)

            Personally I think if we see Hilary elected, we *might* see a change in how “Relationships for expediency” are viewed, and that might shift acceptance towards polyamory. What Bill did was wrong, but his wife stayed with him. They’re grownups, and they can do what they want. What does concern me however is I saw a lot of jobs in tech get offshored during Clinton 1’s reign. Hilary has been up to shenanigans that has been breaking my confidence in her. Just recently, a really good friend/technical writer got pinkslipped and outsourced to India. Not sure but I think it happened *right* before his planned retirement. I’m voting for Bernie for that sole reason. Enough with corporate injustice!


            Can you answer for me, “Why doest thou protest ye polyamorous relationships?” So far my scorecard indicates you show some level of intolerance towards relationships that you deem “Non-Traditional”. Why? Why can’t you just answer that? I’m getting facebook PM’s from people asking about you.

            Side question for you, if SJI has endorsed politicians in similar situations as the Clintons (I won’t give names, but I can assure you many exist) then why are they giving Manh a hard time?

            And really, this entire dialog exists because I’m so confused by the amount of hypocrisy in this thread. Is this what we are as Democrats? We say it’s OK for one person to do something, but not another? My brain is bedazzled right now.

          • Micheal,
            I get it now, Manh must be some where “White of center”, On the white to black, gray scale of political rating system. Anyone on the right/white side gets cut up by the media and late night funny shops, for what ever Un-Saintly indiscretion that go clear back to infancy.
            “He was still pooping in his diaper when he was a year and a half old and his mother was putting him in state run day care!”
            I wasn’t sure where Manh politics were located.

            “On the dark side left”, you can do know wrong.
            “Joe Stalin was a great party man and humanitarian and stand up guy”.

            Close ranks and keep your mouth shut!

            “I see NOTHING”!
            Sargent Schultz

            “My hypocrisy knows no bounds”
            Doc Holiday

            “Righty- tighty lefty loosey”
            Both my 7 grade shop teacher and my 11 grade political science teacher.

            “My hypocrisy knows know bounds”
            Doc Holiday

          • Mr. Cortese, you said, “My hats [sic] off to the men and women that [sic] can juggle these relationships.”

            Oh, boy. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any longer.

            Silly me. I was always taught to admire the men and women who keep the commitments they make in all aspects of life and who live with great personal honor and integrity.

            As for the definition of adultery, it can easily be found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. If the definition offends you, so be it.

            Good day, sir.

          • Dhalia,

            I wasn’t going to endorse anyone in this race one way or another, but you’ve convinced me that I wouldn’t want your bigoted self to have a shred of influence in city.

            For what it’s worth, Manh has my endorsement now. He only has you (and to some degree SJI) to thank. Tim’s supporters have endorsed many divorced, separated, and other people in “It’s complicated” type relationships. The hypocrisy is brain melting.

          • @Empty Gun.

            Love the Schultz reference. You’re aging yourself there :)

            Completely offtopic, but I was thinking about when I watched shows like “Hogans Heroes” as a kid, and how different it is from kids today. Cable and remote controls didn’t exist. We had to get up and manually change channels. I started thinking about the tactile feedback difference between switching VHF and UHF channels.

            For some reason I always loved browsing UHF channels. The rapid fire “click-click-click” compared to the slow thunk of a VHF’s limited,13 channels was more enjoyable.

            If any readers have never seen the show, it’s pretty hilarious. It takes place during WWII in a Nazi POW camp. The show portrayed the Nazi’s as bumbling idiots that were hoodwinked into helping the allied war effort every week by Hogan, and his ragtag brigade of Allied POW’s from various countries.

            Schultz was the “Captain of the guard” at the camp, an overweight, self preserving idiot that was the easiest of the Axis cast to fall to manipulation. Whenever a situation got too hot for him, instead of staying involved, he would cowardly duck out and disavow any involvement with his trademark phrase “I SAW NOTHING!”

            While on the surface the show seems to show the bumbling of Nazi’s, I think the true purpose was to show how fascism and blind faith of any kind makes you an idiot. Upon reflection, maybe I need to start being more like Hogan with these people.


          • Robert,
            Glad you picked up at least one reference to blind allegiance but miss hypocrisy twice. Socialism/ Fascism/ Communism or what ever ism ales you, left or right relies on the blind faith and acceptance of the dear leaders words.

            Trampling the rights of free people, smearing their reputation, and lying about you own intentions seems to be the new free speech these days.

            Perhaps we would be better people if we examined our own hypocrisy first.

          • @ Smoking Gun

            BTW I didn’t say thanks for the nostalgia. So many great shows of the era. I didn’t really know the other references you gave, and you’re right, the only way to be truly above it all is to be introspective enough to examine our own shortcomings. My top 3.

            * I don’t subscribe to the diplomacy of “Kill them with kindness” or “If you have nothing to say” If I see someone do something wrong, I call them on it loud, clear, and hound them till they change their ways.

            * I let the political trolls get to me… Maybe one reason I should never consider public office.

            * I don’t have that “je ne sais quoi” that allows me to get away with murder. What I mean is, some folks can get away with things on charm alone… I don’t have that. People don’t rush to my side to defend me.

            I have more, but those are my top 3.

            Back to topic and this race though..

            I think I’ve been fairly consistent. You can look back at the comments, I actually defend Tim’s DUI’s. He’s paid his debt to society, and moved on. My only reason for not supporting Tim at this point is his supporters. There’s a huge difference of what I can call “Extrapolatability” that can be derived from both candidates supporters mudslinging.

            Tim’s DUI. Not much you can interpret or extrapolate. It’s just a flat fact. There is some extrapolation with, “THIS PROVES HE’S IRRESPONSIBLE” but the needle isn’t too far from the truth side.

            Manh’s Girlfriends: There just seems to be a HUGE amount of extrapolation here. The flat fact is he moved out 10 years ago, but didn’t finish or file divorce papers. The extrapolation or truth stretching is mind boggling. “OH HE WASN’T TECHNICALLY DIVORCED!!!! THAT’S CHEATING!!” ADULTERER!! NON-TRADITIONAL!!! Needle has moved all the way to the right where the BS label sits.

            I just shake my head.. It’s such grasping for straws. If you have to stretch the truth, it’s probably not even worth mention. My opinion on their “Qualifications” Each is equally good, or crappy, depending on what time it is and whether I had my cup of coffee yet. It’s just the folks supporting Tim seem less truthy to me, and giving Tim’s truth stretching supporters some clout in city hall is a scary prospect.

            Tim could have won my support by sending out a press release of, “Uhh this Dovan guy isn’t with me, I don’t support his complaint, and let’s knock it off and start playing nice” Tim had a chance to be the bigger man in all of this.. It’s shame neither he, nor his campaign staff thought of that.

          • Robert,
            You seem to be missing what they represent and a keyed on what they were.
            Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, all had some faults, today news media would throw these guys under the bus to sell some two bit dictator that fits their indoctrinated opinion.

            Our corporate giants would do the same for a fast buck. Who do these candidate’s represent the taxpayer or the government union?

            We the tax payer can’t afford a bottomless budget.The city can’t print money, hundreds of millions of dollars passed onto the taxpayer I can’t afford to live here anymore.

            I love my cops and fireman but I can’t pay them more than I make!

            I’m not picking a representative that doesn’t represent my interest, even if he’s good looking and smells like fresh cut flowers.

          • @Smoking Gun

            Ahh I understand what you’re saying. You’re basically saying some personal screwups like Manh’s or Orozco’s were prevalent in the time of our founding fathers (Franklin did coke and had mistresses right? George Washington smoked reefer) but these were not publicized like they would be today.. The overall result of today’s style of reporting detracts from the actual issues, which basically boils down to, “What would I do?”

            Manh being aligned with “Fiscal Responsibility” is what you identify with.

          • Mr. Cortese,
            I find it curious that you would call someone whom you don’t know “bigoted.” Just because my values are different than yours does not make me a bigot. I would call you many things, but bigot is not one of them, not because you aren’t a bigot, but because I don’t know you enough to say if you are or not. So I’ll just call you a blithering, pitiable fool.

            Wow, you’re really throwing your support behind Mr. Nguyen just because you don’t like my viewpoints about him?? But what if I end up supporting him? Where does that leave you?

            I can never imagine that I would decide against voting for Mr. Nguyen just because someone as blubbering as yourself was supporting him. Ha! You would never get that much credit for influencing my vote.

            In any case, if you read my original post (I’m not sure you even did before beginning your haranguing bloviating), you will see that I don’t like either candidate.

            I am an actual District 4 voter. I don’t know if you are.

            Though I cited several reasons why I object to Mr. Nguyen, you only got your hackles up over “polyamory.” One can only speculate as to why this is so.

            You speak (laughably) about hypocrites. What would you call someone who speaks of polyamory as some sort of great, noble civil rights struggle, while in the same breath they claim to practice Catholicism? I’m not Catholic, but I think it’s a fair bet that if you ask your priest about polyamory, you won’t exactly get a ringing endorsement.

            Finally, you put a lot of words in quotes as though I had said them, when in fact I never did.

          • @Dhalia

            Doesn’t matter if I’m a district 4 voter or not. My family is from the area, still lives in the area, and the happenings have a direct impact on me.

            Anyways, the quotes were paraphrasing, but I don’t think you disagree. You and I probably don’t get along on a lot of things. So far I’ve done a good job of staying away from insults, but as usual, someone like you comes to SJI so engrained in their belief that it’s insulting should anyone have one that is different than yours.

            So go ahead. Call me pitiful, call me a fool. I embrace your impulsiveness and lack of foresight, your inability to step away from your own argument long enough to ask yourself, “Am I still being civil?” Because you’re not. Nor are you being civil towards Manh.

          • Also, as far as being a practicing Catholic..

            The pope has made it very clear that “Non-Traditional” types are now welcome in the church. Even before him, Catholics don’t make it a habit of trying to push their morals onto others. You’ll never see us knocking on your door with a copy of the watchtower, or riding bikes around in cleanly pressed white T-Shirts. I’m not offended by those that do. I tolerate any kind of healthy relationship that revolves around love. Gay, straight, MF FMM or MFMFMFT. We made that mistake in the past, and today the horror of what we did is parodied and canonized by Monty Python.



          • Mr. Cortese,

            Was it not you who committed the sin of name calling first, calling me a bigot? And then I retorted with my insult. But two wrongs do not make a right, so I apologize for calling you a dithering fool or whatever it was I sad.

            You know, at this point we are being quite peurile. We aren’t going to agree, but at least I hope we can respect each other for caring about things instead of mindlessly stumbling through life.

            I largely agree with you about Catholics not imposing their morals on others by knocking on doors, etc. (Though I fear that many liberals who support abortion would disagree with you. The Catholic church did a lot of pushback with our current administration, especially as far as the new health care law/insurance issues are concerned vis-a-vis abortion.) As far as what the pope has said about accepting people who were previously treated as pariahs, it’s important to note that acceptance doesn’t equate with endorsement.

            It may shock you to learn that I actually voted for Manh Nguyen in the primary. But now I am disgusted with the negative turn of the campaigns. The mailers I’ve been getting from the South Bay Labor Council as well as the Chamber of Commerce are a real turnoff and make me want to sit out the election. The issues matter to me, but so does character. It’s my democratic duty to vote, however, so I don’t know what to do. Write in Mickey Mouse or Richard Nixon, or my dog?

            I think it would be nice for us to bury the hatchet. What say you?


          • Looks like they succeeded in canceling your vote, that’s just one more for the other guy!

  6. Where does it say that he has a mistress? Other than your own interpretation?

    Where does it say that he is committing adultery?

    If he and his wife are separated for more than a decade, are we really going to fault him (or his wife for that matter) for dating others?


  7. Typical San Jose election coverage that leads to dumb voters. How many residents know each of the candidates’ plans for fully staffing SJPD if they even have a plan? Most residents claim public safety is their top priority yet the San Jose press spends most of its resources on tabloid journalism.

  8. I suppose he claimed to be trans-gendered instead of just separated you would all just fine with him.
    This place is so upside down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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