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Follow the Money: Tracking the Money Race in Local Ballot Measures

No on Measure C Draws Big Money in Santa Clara

Santa Clara’s March 3 special election is drawing some big spending — including for a candidate running unopposed. But the biggest spending is from the No on Measure C campaign — against the ballot initiative to undo Santa Clara’s court-ordered six Council election districts and replace them with three districts with two Council Members each, elected at-large.

The 49ers have jumped into Santa Clara politics for the first time since 2014, donating $317,000 to the No on C Santa Clarans for Voting Rights committee, and the TV and radio ads started hitting the airwaves last week.


As of this writing, there is no registered Yes on C committee, and this is raising questions among some voters about whether City Hall’s communications on Measure C are effectively an advocacy campaign.

Creating or distributing material advocating for a candidate or ballot measure must be done through a registered political committee, according to the FPPC. In 2018, the FPPC fined BART for such a violation.


CA Secretary of State Weighs in on Santa Clara Measure C

Santa Clara’s attempt to reinstate a version of its former at-large election system via a ballot initiative has drawn the attention of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

“Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy,” he said in a statement. “Too often in our nation’s history, election policy and political structures have been used to stifle participation and representation, especially of minority communities.

“Shockingly,” he continued, “Measure C threatens to dilute the voting power of diverse communities in Santa Clara and restrict their opportunities to elect representatives of their choice as called for in the Voting Rights Act.”


Santa Clara Police PAC Gives Related Lobbyist $25K Payday

Although Lt. Patrick Nikolai is running unopposed for Police Chief, the Santa Clara Police Association PAC has spent $30,000 on digital campaigning for him. The PAC’s donations are all from union members.

Of the PAC’s spending on Nikolai’s campaign, $25,000 went to Related lobbyist Jude Barry’s political consulting company Catapult for digital campaigning. Another $5,000 went to Kentucky-based El Toro, a political PR agency that specializes in online targeted advertising.

Barry has had a relationship with the police PAC at least since 2016, when the Nikolai campaign paid him $10,000 for Barry’s campaign-in-a-box software, VoterPros. In 2018, the PAC hired another Barry company, robo-texting service Voxloca, to conduct a push poll on Measure A — a 2018 City-proposed measure for two Council districts, each with three at-large seats.

The push poll was conducted shortly before the 2018 election, but the police PAC never reported it as a political expenditure.


Yes on Measure B Leads Money Campaign in Sunnyvale

In March Sunnyvale votes will weigh in on replacing the City’s at-large, by-seat Council and appointed mayor election system with a six single-member districts and a directly elected mayor.

There’s little disagreement that Sunnyvale should move to by-district elections, but there’s plenty of disagreement is over whether Sunnyvale should have a directly elected mayor. This threatens to eclipse the larger question of electing the City Council by districts.

The No Directly Elected Sunnyvale Mayor political committee started last June almost immediately after the Council voted to put the measure on the ballot. Since then, the committee has raised $8,600, and it’s spending that on direct mail and email.

Yes on Measure B committee has raised $3,300 in donations, and received a $19,000 loan from Council Member Glenn Hendricks on Jan. 31.

All of these donations are from Sunnyvale residents.

City campaign finance reports are filed with City Clerks’ offices and can be found at and


1 Comment
  1. Carlene Nakagawa 4 years ago

    In addition to the $3,300.00 mentioned in the article, the Sunnyvale Yes on B campaign received a $19,000.00 loan from a current member of the city council.

    To view the details, please click these links in order in your browser.

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