Santa Clara City Hall has acted on a complaint that charged Stand Up for Santa Clara with violating the City’s campaign finance reporting rules. On Oct. 23 – five days after The Weekly published an article about the city clerk’s apparent inaction – City Clerk Hosam Haggag sent a letter to Burt Field, a founder and leader of Stand Up for Santa Clara, advising him that the political group failed to comply with the City’s Dark Money ordinance. The letter gave Stand Up for Santa Clara a deadline of Nov. 1, 2023 to respond in writing.
“After some preliminary research,” wrote Haggag, “I have determined that neither you, nor any other representative associated with Stand Up For Santa Clara, has filed any Santa Clara Campaign Disclosure forms on behalf of Stand Up For Santa Clara.
“After reviewing the Complaint and the Dark Ordinance materials I have referred to you,” the city clerk continued, “if you believe that the City’s Dark Money Ordinance does not apply to Stand Up For Santa Clara or its activities, please notify me in writing by Wednesday, November 1, 2023. Please include an explanation of why you believe the ordinance does not apply.”
When asked by The Weekly, Haggag said the City received a response from Stand Up for Santa Clara and the City is “currently evaluating the appropriate actions to take.” The Weekly has also not received a response to a request for comment from Stand Up for Santa Clara.
City council members Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal and Suds Jain filed the city and state complaints against Stand Up for Santa Clara on Sept. 10, saying the group failed to comply with city and state campaign finance reporting regulations concerning its $8,000 in political ad spending. In addition, the three filed a complaint with the IRS about Stand Up for Santa Clara’s false claim that it’s a tax exempt 501(c)(3). If Stand Up for Santa Clara is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it would be violating federal law which prohibits politicking by 501(c)(3) organizations.
Santa Clara’s Dark Money Ordinance
In 2018, Santa Clara enacted an ordinance requiring so-called dark money groups spending money in City elections to report their donors. These organizations include groups that that aren’t required to report their donors:
- Social welfare groups — 501(c)(4)s — which don’t have to report their donors but are required to spend more than 50% of their revenue on non-political community benefit activities.
- Independent expenditure PACs — IRS 527s — which can’t donate directly to candidates. Some 527s report their donors.
- Political LLCs.
These groups create shells that further obscure the sources of their money; for example, political LLCs donating to 501(c)(4)s and 527s.