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Follow the Campaign Money 2022: Billionaires Weigh In

The 2022 Santa Clara election is turning into a replay of the 2020 election. It is a Battle of the Billionaires: Related Companies vs. the 49ers.

Related Companies was granted an entitlement to build on the City’s 240-acre golf course 10 years ago, but so far it has built nothing and paid nothing in rent.

The 49ers have operated and played in Levi’s Stadium for eight years. The 49ers pay facility rent, which in large part, is paying off the Stadium’s construction debt of about $850 million.


In the past, Related donated directly to candidates as well as the Santa Clara police union PAC, which has a history as a gray money operation for developers to support Gillmor’s candidates. This year, however, Related has established its own PAC exclusively to support Gillmor’s re-election.

As of Sept. 22, Related Companies has put $100,000 into the PAC but has not reported any spending.

As of the same date, the 49ers have put $2.5 million into six PACs. Three of these PACs oppose Santa Clara mayor Lisa Gillmor and two first-time City Council candidates: Larry McColloch and Christian Pellecchia. The second three PACs support candidate for mayor and District 6 City Council Member Anthony Becker, and incumbent Council Members Raj Chahal (District 2) and Karen Hardy (District 3).

The 49ers PACs have spent $709,000 on independent expenditures supporting the three candidates. They have also spent $1.8 million opposing Gillmor and the two council challengers; $828,000 alone on anti-Gillmor TV ads and mailers.

The police union PAC has reported no developer donations, leading to speculation that Gillmor’s regular developer supporters are planning to sit this one out or donate to Related’s PAC.

None of the candidates have reported any donations yet.

While the 49ers’ independent expenditure spending is an eye-popping number for a local election, it is not eye-popping when compared to what the 49ers spent in 2010 to support Gillmor’s campaign to pass Measure J and build Levi‘s Stadium. In that campaign, Gillmor spent $5.24 million of Jed York’s money on mailers and TV ads to persuade voters to approve the measure.

At that time no eyes were popping at the amount of money being spent in a local election by an NFL team; except those of the stadium’s opponents, who were given short shrift by the media. Ironically, the council candidates the 49ers are supporting this year actively campaigned against building Levi’s Stadium in 2010.

To find out more about unraveling the labyrinth of campaign spending, visit this post on how we follow the campaign money in an election year.


  1. Davy L 2 years ago

    My guess: There won’t be any real fisticuffs. It takes two to tango, and Related is not all that interested. Granted they prefer Lisa Gillmor and company, but they likely feel her replacement is acceptable.

  2. Buchser Alum 2 years ago

    Thank you for citing how much money is being spent by special interests and how the 49ers are spending a huge multiple of what Related is.

    But shame on you for trying to label 2010’s Measure J as “Gillmor’s campaign.” Santa Clarans who were around and paying attention to that know that Gillmor was one of many supporters.

    Mayor Patty Mahan, Councilman Jamie Matthews, former Councilman John McLemore, former City Manager Don van Raesfeld all were promoting Measure J. Gillmor was one of many and not even close to the most prominent. So to say that “Gillmor spent Jed’s money” on Measure J is a ridiculous statement for a supposed source of news reporting to print.

    And what the 49ers have spent and are spending on city council and mayor elections in Santa Clara is even more eye popping compared to what they spent on Measure J.

    Measure J was specifically and directly about getting the 49ers a publicly financed stadium. It was specifically and directly about making the 49ers money. So they spent millions of dollars.

    They have spent millions of dollars to get Becker, Chahal, Jain, Park, Hardy elected or keep them elected. Is this also about specifically and directly making the 49ers money?

  3. Carolyn Schuk 2 years ago

    You are absolutely correct that passing Measure J involved a large cast. However, Lisa Gillmor chaired the committee.

    • Buchser Alum 2 years ago


      You wrote: “You are absolutely correct that passing Measure J involved a large cast. However, Lisa Gillmor chaired the committee.”

      But you wrote your piece making Gillmor seem far more than the chair of a committee for Measure J, and made it seem like she was the embodiment of the campaign, not one member of what was a very large cast.

      You mention not a single name of that large cast, even though there were others who took much more prominent roles in publicly promoting Measure J. It is just plain partisan deception to paint Measure J as “Gillmor’s campaign” and to basically state that Gillmor directed the budget of the the Yes on J campaign.

      We all can still view the television advertisements that the 49ers money was spent on:

      Endorsement videos from Mayor Patty Mahan, SCCC CEO Steve Van Dorn, Councilman Jamie Matthews, Councilman Dom Caserta, Former City Manager Don von Raesfeld, and almost two dozen more. No Lisa Gillmor endorsement video.

      Here’s one video showing a panel stumping for Measure J at a town meeting. Mayor Patty Mahan, Councilman Jamie Matthews, Police Chief Lodge and others. No Lisa Gillmor.

      Here’s one that has Lisa Gillmor, after the video starts with Mayor Mahan. And the video ends with Senator Elaine Alquist as the cleanup hitter:

      It was not “Gillmor’s campaign” and all the millions spent on the campaign were spent by a big cast, and not a budget that “Gillmor spent.”

      You need to not be so massively partisan if you want to be news source Santa Clarans can rely upon.

  4. Buchser Alum 2 years ago


    Why did you delete your reply to me and not publish my response to that?

    You stated that you agreed that Gillmor was one of a cast of people who supported Measure J but that she was chair of the committee.

    I replied with links to many videos by the campaign for Measure J showing that she was not only one of a big cast of people but also clearly not one of the primary actors.

    So it is extremely deceptive that you described Measure J as “Gillmor’s campaign.” As I said in the response you did not publish to your reply that you deleted, you need to do much better if you want this publication to be a trusted news source for Santa Clarans.

    • Admin 2 years ago

      My apologies Buchser Alum. I was asked to remove the comment and did not realize that it would remove your response as well. I have reinstated the comment and as such, you should see your response. Again, I apologize.

      • Buchser Alum 2 years ago


        Thank you for the explanation. It was not a serious matter. And while I see Carolyn’s response to the points I raised as insufficient in supporting her attribution of Measure J as “Gillmor’s campaign,” it could have become a dialogue between her and myself. With Carolyn explaining more why it made sense to describe Measure J as “Gillmor’s campaign” or perhaps agreeing that this was misleading and was meant to be as partisan negativity toward Gillmor.

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