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Follow the Money 2022: Jed York Ups the Ante, Related Jumps In, Santa Cruz Businesses Bet on Pellecchia

The 49ers continue to spend big against Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and her candidates in District 2 and District 3.

In the last week, they put another $583,000 into their six independent expenditure committees supporting Anthony Becker for Mayor, and Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal for re-election to the City Council and opposing council candidates Larry McColloch and Christian Pellecchia and Gillmor for re-election. This brings the 49ers’ PACs’ war chest to $3.8 million.

Related has donated another $150,000 to a PAC supporting Gillmor, bringing that total  to $250,000, but has reported no spending.

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Candidates Direct Donations

The first financial reports show Gillmor leading with $20,000 on hand: $11,800 in donations and an $8,300 loan from herself. Gillmor received donations from two PACs: The League of Conservation Voters and Build Jobs PAC, a Sacramento-based PAC representing developers, builders, contractors and real estate businesses.

Gillmor did not accept the City’s voluntary direct spending limit, which was adopted in 2000 when Gillmor was finishing her second term on the City Council. The ordinance sets a voluntary limit on how much candidates can spend — currently $47,580 — and allows up to $650 in individual donations, with a $99 limit on cash donations.

Candidates who don’t accept the spending limit are limited to $320 in individual donations. (The City Clerk’s webpage incorrectly states the limits as $630 and $310). Candidates can make unlimited loans to their own campaigns.

Gillmor’s challenger for Santa Clara Mayor, Council Member for District 6 Anthony Becker, has received $12,200 in donations.

Sitting Council Member District 2 Raj Chahal has $17,400 on hand: $8,900 in donations and an $8,500 loan to himself.  Chahal’s challenger, Larry McColloch has $2,500: $500 in donations and a $2,000 loan to himself.

In District 3, incumbent Karen Hardy has $7,300 on hand, $4,300 in donations and a $3,000 loan from herself.  Hardy received one PAC donation from the Santa Clara County League of Conservative Voters.

Hardy’s challenger, Christian Pellecchia has $7,200 on hand, $5,700 in donations and a $1,500 loan to himself. Pellecchia has a notable donor profile: None of his donors are in Santa Clara and 75% of them come from businesses and individuals in Santa Cruz County.

Pellecchia also received donations from the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter PAC — a real estate and construction industry group — and the Silicon Valley Biz PAC, which apparently used to be the San Jose Chamber of Commerce PAC, but which has reported no contributions or donors to the California Secretary of State, although Sept. 30 was the reporting deadline.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down prohibitions against corporations and unions donating to federal campaigns, accepting the argument that this prohibition interfered with free speech rights. As a result, there is no limit on the amount of money that independent expenditure political committees can put into elections as long as they don’t make contributions to candidates nor coordinate with their campaigns.

Throughout the election, Silicon Valley Voice will endeavor to keep up with the campaign donations in Santa Clara’s political races. This Follow the Money 2022 article is as of Oct. 4, 2022.

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6 Comments
  1. Buchser Alum 2 months ago
    Reply

    Erika,

    Thank you for leading off your update with the massive additional amount that the Forty Niners are adding to the mountain that they have already spent and have committed to influencing Santa Clara elections. And the very large amount that Related has committed.

    Given the magnitude of these numbers I wish that there was much more attention paid to these massive PAC budgets and the PACs themselves. Instead of spending several times the space to delve into the actual campaign budgets and funding which are inconsequential by comparison.

    Since you report that the Related PAC for Gillmor has spent nothing is it possible to know how much the Forty Niners PACs for Becker and Chahal and Hardy have spent?

    Is it possible to find out more about the PAC’s? I think I have read elsewhere that all the PACs for the Forty Niners favored candidates are all titled as if they are different and organic groups. But they all trace back to the same addresses with the same officers controlling them.

    This makes me wonder why they even bother creating multiple PAC’s. Why not just make on PAC? Are the Forty Niners going to the trouble of making different PAC’s to pretend that they are grassroots and not their own creations?

    The PAC they created to spend money on Raj Chahal created a campaign website for him and there is something very interesting that you or anyone at Silicon Valley Voice is uniquely able to report on.

    https://www.voterajchahal.com/

    The picture used for this site comes from the same picture that Silicon Valley Voice used to feature Chahal as a candidate in 2018.

    https://www.svvoice.com/santa-clara-city-council-district-2-candidate-raj-chahal/

    Did Silicon Valley Voice get a request from the Forty Niners PAC for Chahal to use the photograph? Which other Santa Clara political candidate PACs paid for by the Forty Niners does the Silicon Valley Voice cooperate with?

    • Davy L 2 months ago
      Reply

      If a photo has not been copyright, and was already viewed on a public domain website, they are available for anyone to use “free of charge” and altered as they wish. No permission is needed.

  2. Buchser Alum 2 months ago
    Reply

    PAC’s are not supposed to have any sort of communication or coordination with the candidates is that correct? They are supposed to be at arms length in order to not have their funding counted as direct contributions to the candidate is that correct?

    The website created for Anthony Becker by the Forty Niners has a photo of Becker that I wonder how they got.

    https://www.beckerisbetter.com/

    At first it looks like they may have gotten it from Becker’s Twitter page and edited it to fit their website.

    https://twitter.com/anthonyjbecker

    But the one on their website is higher resolution and also shows parts of his hands that are cut out from Becker’s Twitter page picture. So it is quite clear that Becker sent his Forty Niner PAC a larger version of the picture he used on his Twitter page.

    Is this proper and allowed under California campaign finance rules?

    • Davy L 2 months ago
      Reply

      You can be assure if any improper communication has been done, Lisa’s associates will b e loudly screaming and jumping up and down. Since this has not happened, there is no need for your concern.

  3. Buchser Alum 2 months ago
    Reply

    The photographs on the campaign websites paid for by the Yorks and Forty Niners are not photographs that were pulled from public websites.

    The Chahal website set up by the Forty Niner PAC has the same photo of Chahal that the Silicon Valley Voice used but in a higher resolution than was used to illustrate the Silicon Valley Voice article. The higher resolution file must have been given to the PAC by either the Silicon Valley Voice, Raj Chahal, or the photographer who took the photo. Did Raj Chahal provide the Silicon Valley Voice with the photo for the 2018 feature, or did the Silicon Valley Voice have a staff photographer take it?

    The Becker photograph is also not the same photograph. The Becker website set up by his Forty Niner PAC has a different version that could not have been taken off of Becker’s Twitter page which is the only other place where it appears publicly.

    Since it is the Twitter profile photograph that Becker uses on his own private Twitter page the only way that the Forty Niner PAC campaign site could get a bigger version of the picture is from Becker himself.

    Which means that Becker has been cooperating and communicating with the PAC that the Forty Niners funded to support him. If it is an Independent Expenditure Committee I believe this is in fact illegal.

    The group the Forty Niners set up to spend money to support Becker is called: “Santa Clara Community Leaders Supporting Anthony Becker for Mayor 2022, sponsored by and major funding from DeBartolo Corporation & Affiliated Entities, including Forty Niners Football Company, LLC.” I believe this is an “Independent Expenditure Committee” as it has filed FPPC Forms 496 and 497 to report the massive sums they are spending to promote Becker.

    https://public.netfile.com/Pub2/AllFilingsByFiler.aspx?id=204597422

    The campaign website made by the PAC the Forty Niners paid for is a “communication” that cannot be made in coordination with the candidate or their campaign.

    https://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/NS-Documents/TAD/Campaign%20Manuals/Manual_6/Final_Manual_6.pdf

    This is just a simple website but appears to show that Becker is coordinating with the Forty Niners Committee set up to support him but which is supposed to be independent of him and his campaign.

    And the Silicon Valley Voice appears to have coordinated with at least the Raj Chahal PAC set up by the Forty Niners. Which calls into question the Silicon Valley Voice’s supposed journalistic neutrality. Of course we already know that the Silicon Valley Voice does not maintain journalistic neutrality because it has obviously been a partisan advocate for the councilpeople supported by the Forty Niners and a partisan critic of the mayor and councilperson who do not do the Forty Niners bidding.

    • Davy L 2 months ago
      Reply

      As mentioned earlier, every single observation you have made, I am certain Lisa’s associates are also well aware of. If any “crimes” have been committed, they would loudly sound off the alarms and protest and file charges. They have not done so, so stop kicking up the dirt. You are the only clown jumping up and down. This is “much ado about nothing”.

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