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Follow the Money 2018: Developers, Real Estate Industry and Building Trade Unions Bet Big on Gillmor and Biagini

As of Friday, $231,000 has poured into Santa Clara’s 2018 City election in direct donations and PAC spending. Here are the candidates’ rankings in the money race.

We include political clubs in the designation ‘political action committee’ (PAC). We are also considering both direct donations and independent expenditures in the calculation of candidates’ total economic leverage to present a clearer picture of the political money reality — what California political legend Jesse Unruh called “the mother’s milk of politics.”

We are not implying or suggesting that candidates are directing or controlling this spending on their behalf, but it is generally unquestionable that they benefit from it.



$30,000 and Up

Leading the money parade is candidate for mayor Lisa Gillmor. With a total campaign treasury of $41,000 and almost $13,000 in independent expenditures by the developer-financed Police Association PAC (police PAC), Gillmor’s campaign leverages $54,000 in financial firepower — more than 5X that of her opponent Anthony Becker.

Slightly fewer than 60 percent of Gillmor’s direct donations come from developers, construction and real estate-related business and the employees of such businesses. Slightly more than 60 percent come from individuals and businesses outside Santa Clara, Santa Clara County and California. Four of Gillmor’s direct donors are PACs.

Gillmor has also taken direct donations from 10 executives and employees of Related Companies, developer of the future City Place on what is now the municipal golf course.

District 2 City Council candidate Nancy Biagini is a close second, with total campaign treasury of $20,800 and $28,000 in independent expenditures by the police PAC and several union PACs and one Democratic party committee, adding up to $48,000 in financial clout backing her.

Biagini leads with out-of-town donations — 80 percent of her donors don’t live in Santa Clara, although a majority of them are in Santa Clara County, with notably some union PAC donations coming from outside the county and outside California. Almost 30 percent of her donors are PACs and people associated with labor unions.

In third place is the largely self-funded campaign of District 3 City Council Candidate, Srivinasan Sambathkumar (Sam Kumar), with a treasury of $31,000 — $29,000 of it is a loan to himself. Of Sambathkumar’s six donors, one is a union PAC and another is a Democratic political club.


$20,000 to $30,000

Candidate for City Clerk Hosam Haggag has out-raised his opponents, collectively, by three-to-one, with $15,000 in direct donations and has been the beneficiary of $12,700 in police PAC independent expenditures — giving him $27,000 in financial benefit. Over half Haggag’s donors appear to be from Santa Clara and the rest from neighboring cities.

District 2 Council candidate Raj Chahal has out-raised Biagini, but his entire treasury — $25,000 — comes from individuals, about 70 percent of them Santa Clara residents, with others being residents of neighboring cities. The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC (chamber PAC) has made an independent expenditure of $315 endorsing him, adding up to a grand total of $25,315.


Under $20,000

Candidate for City Clerk, Robert O’Keefe, has raised only $2,700 in donations from individuals but is the beneficiary of $12,700 in PAC spending by the police PAC, effectively giving O’Keefe’s campaign $15,400 in leverage.

Anthony Becker, Gillmor’s challenger for Santa Clara Mayor, has raised $9,560 from Santa Clara residents, with one donation from a Santa Clara community group the Chamber PAC an independent expenditure of $315, bringing his total campaign leverage to $9,575.

Karen Hardy, candidate for City Council District 3, has raised a total of $3,160 from Santa Clara residents, with no PAC spending on her behalf.

Candidate for City Clerk Peta Roberts is running a self-funded campaign with a loan to herself of $1,600 and $315 in an independent expenditure by the Chamber PAC, giving Roberts a total of $1,635.

District 2 City Council Candidate Mario Bouza has $900 in donations from Santa Clara residents, with no PAC spending on his behalf.

The remaining candidates have reported no donations or spending, and have no PAC backing.


PAC Spending Against Candidates

As of Friday night, only one expenditure against a candidate has been reported — PACs are required to report expenditures within 24 hours — a Chamber PAC mailer costing $11,750 against Gillmor. The police PAC has so far shied away its vicious 2016 “Letter From Your Mayor” mailers.


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