Santa Clara City Clerk Hosam Haggag has responded to a request for comment from The Weekly about the City’s handling of a dark money complaint filed against Stand Up for Santa Clara, however, not by conventional methods. Instead of replying to an email sent to the official City Clerk email account and Haggag’s City email address, Haggag chose to provide more information in a series of insult-laced comments posted on The Weekly’s website (SvVoice.com).
Response Received Via Website Comments, Says He Spoke with Complainants
Haggag’s response comes six weeks after the initial request, and he prefaces the comments by calling The Weekly’s article “worthless” and a “waste of time.”
“As indicated to Ms. Schuk, City Attorney [Glenn] Googins was on travel and OOO [out of office] when the original complaint was filed,” Haggag wrote on SvVoice.com. “I did actively meet with some members of his staff in his absence, and although his staff had been involved in prior investigations I felt it was best suited to wait until he was back, particularly as he is still relatively new to the position of City Attorney.
“What Ms. Schuk fails to know, however,” he continued, “is that I already spoke DIRECTLY to the complainants Mr. Becker, Mr. Park and Mr. Jain in person when I met them at the Santa Clara Parade of Champions and also conferred with our City Attorney. My obligations for communication fall between the complainants and the accused, not to a reporter with an axe to grind.
“The City is taking appropriate steps to act upon and investigate the claims of the complaint,” he went on, “without the need of having to publicize our step-by-step playbook. Especially not with any news organization or local blog with a clear and obvious bias.”
However, when The Weekly asked the three people who filed the dark money complaint against Stand Up for Santa Clara – Council Members Suds Jain, Anthony Becker and Kevin Park – about their discussions with Haggag, they had a different response.
Park denies he talked to Haggag about the dark money complaint at the Parade of Champions.
“He didn’t talk to me at all,” said Park. “We said ‘hello’ and exchanged pleasantries. We didn’t have any discussion. No one at city hall has talked to me about it [the complaints].”
Jain said he spoke to Haggag about something entirely different on that day. Jain wanted an update on a complaint he filed stating that the police union president Jeremy Schmidt wasn’t registered as a lobbyist, although the previous union president had been.
“All he said was that he referred the matter to the city attorney,” said Jain. “The matter has been pending since September first, yet he seems to have little interest in following up. I have complained many times to him that lobbyist registrations are incomplete, and he has yet to raise a finger to fix the process.”
Becker is the only one that said he had any discussion with Haggag about the dark money complaint.
“I asked him about the complaints, as well as Santa Clara Now*, which is running ads,” said Becker. “I asked him, ‘Are you going to do anything? It seems like no one is following the rules.’ He just said he was going to leave it to the city attorney.”
According to Becker, Haggag also said that it was “freedom of speech,” and that Stand Up for Santa Clara’s ads did not state who to vote for.
Haggag Accuses The Weekly of Race-Driven Remarks
Haggag’s initial post included another roughly 400 words, and concluded with the comment that he was “…personally disgusted by Ms. Schuk’s reference to my actions as a crusade.”
“As the first Muslim, Arab elected official in the South Bay’s history, her comments are at best insensitive, and at worst downright racist and Islamophobic,” he continued. “The level of vitriol in her article is extremely alarming in light of the rising levels of Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in the country and abroad. The Weekly should be ashamed of publishing such a hollow hit-piece.”
The Weekly apologized to Haggag for the use of the term.
“In regards to the use of the word ‘crusade.’ While historically, the word has had religious connotations, more recent and modern uses of the word include: ‘a vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change’ and ‘a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm,’” wrote The Weekly Editor Angie Tolliver. “The more modern definition was what Ms. Schuk was referring to when using the term. However, we completely understand that the use of this word has upset you and have changed the article accordingly. We apologize for any undue harm that the term has caused to you or any of our readers. It was not our intent in any way, shape or form.”
Despite the apology, Haggag made five more similar posts on the website, expanding on his insults and name-calling and signing them all, “Your Santa Clara City Clerk Hosam Haggag.”
Santa Clara’s Code of Ethics states that city titles should only be used “…when conducting official City business, for information purposes, or as an indication of background and expertise.”
*Santa Clara Now is an entity — believed to be funded by the 49ers/Jed York — with a Facebook page that re-posts local news stories and is a Levi’s Stadium booster. It has run ads that, like Stand Up’s, have been accused of being political. In 2022 Facebook pulled the page’s ads for violating the company’s policy about properly identifying who’s paying for ads.
Like Stand Up for Santa Clara, Santa Clara Now claims to be a nonprofit without being registered with the IRS. Santa Clara Now isn’t registered as a California business, nonprofit entity, or political committee. The page offers no information on who runs it.