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Follow The Money: Police PAC Spends $50,000 Opposing Appointed Police Chief, Appointment Supporters Spend $300

With less than three weeks to go before the election, the campaign for and against appointing the City’s city clerk (Measure A) and police chief (Measure B) is in high gear. The opposition campaign is being run by Santa Clara Police Association PAC rather than by a purpose-formed committee. Supporters of the measure have formed a conventional political committee.

Sacramento Law Enforcement PAC Financing “No” Campaign

Armed with $30,000 from a Sacramento–based law enforcement PAC* and $25,000 from union coffers, the Santa Clara Police Officers Association last week launched its campaign against an appointed police chief in the city of Santa Clara.

So far, the police PAC has reported spending about $50,000, all of it on negative ads attacking city council members and the 49ers. To date, the 49ers have taken no role whatsoever in the campaign.


Only 11 Santa Clara police officers live in the City.

The police PAC’s largest donor to date is the Sacramento-based Police Officers Research Association of California Public Issues (PORA PIC) PAC. A law enforcement advocacy group, the PAC donates to law enforcement-related measures and gets most of its money from California law enforcement union PACs. PORAPIC didn’t respond to The Weekly’s request for information about its support for this measure.

The kickoff, announced on social media, was held at the police union hall, with the mayor Lisa Gillmor, Council Member Kathy Watanabe (who are also donors), current police chief (and former police union president) Pat Nikolai and current union president Jeremy Schmidt presiding over the donuts and coffee for the event.

Measures A and B would make the jobs of city clerk and police chief appointed positions requiring professional qualifications, with appointments made by the city manager.

Currently, the only qualification to be a city clerk is being registered to vote in Santa Clara.

The police chief job requires slightly more qualifications. As well as being a registered voter in Santa Clara, the police chief, at a minimum, must have a high school diploma and four years policing experience.

In addition to spending on billboards, door hangers, mailers and postage, the police PAC also paid $15,000 to the Sutton Law Firm for “legal costs to oppose Measure B in the City of Santa Clara.” Sutton Law represented the complainants in an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Measures A and B ballot language.

Unregistered Political Group Continues Its Unreported Campaign Spending

The unregistered political committee, Stand Up for Santa Clara, is also spending money on the campaign. Since last November, it has been buying Facebook ads also attacking city council members and the 49ers, although to date, it appears that it has only spent about $500-$600 (as reported by Meta). The group doesn’t file FPPC-mandated reports, claiming that it is a 501(c)(3) charity.

Complaints were made last fall that the group is violating Santa Clara’s dark money ordinance, but so far, the City has taken no action.

“Yes” Campaigns Funded Locally

By contrast, supporters of appointing these critical city positions have formed Yes on A and Yes on B committees. Currently, these committees each have received $2,000 from Council Member Suds Jain. Spending to date has been on Facebook advertising, websites and state filing costs.

For more information on campaign funding, read our guide to following the political money.

*Funneling money through multiple PACs is sometimes called “gray money” political spending because it obscures the original sources of the money.


  1. Fred 2 months ago

    So glad to see the police showing their concern for the safety of Santa Clara residents by insisting on an elected chief.

    Hahahaha. Just kidding! All they are interested in is their own bank accounts. Our whiny police is in for a ride awakening.

  2. CSC 2 months ago

    I certainly hope Santa Clara voters are paying attention to detail and VOTE YES on both A & B.
    1. Majority of “No” money is from special interest groups outside of Santa Clara.
    2. All of “Yes” money is from Santa Clara residents.
    3. There are no requirements to be the elected City Clerk, an 18 year old high school drop out could appear on the ballot if they live in Santa Clara.
    4. Santa Clara Police Recruits have a higher standard to be basic police officers than what is required to be Santa Clara’s Police Chief.
    No wonder the No side doesn’t have much on their website or social media other than fear tactics. The Yes side has a lot more information supporting a YES vote from residents, the the information here…

  3. TriggerWarningForYou 2 months ago

    When will Jed York put in a million dollars or so to get the YES votes in, so he can get his 5 flunkies on the city council to appoint who he thinks is the best match for what he wants out of the department and city manager?

    • SC Voter 2 months ago

      Yeah–so much better for the Police Union to tell the voters the one person we are allowed to vote for from their 10 eligible candidates.

      Wonder why they won’t reveal their choice now BEFORE this election. I wonder why they never support TWO candidates so at least voters can pretend we have a real choice.

      You do know the two current Assistant Police Chiefs report to the City Manager and NOT the Police Chief. And the Fire Chief also reports to the City Manager. Rather than rely on scare tactics, maybe look at the system now with an open mind.

  4. CSC 2 months ago

    Jed York has nothing to do with the YES on Measure B campaign. Despite one Santa Clara Trumspter just having been convicted of insurrection at the Nation’s Capital, other Trumpsters in Santa Clara are continuing the same “stop the steal, it’s a Soros backed candidate, Mike ‘my pillow’ Lindell” type disinformation.
    In addition to many residents in Santa Clara supporting a YES Vote on Measure B, the Asian Law Alliance and NAACP endorse both Measures A & B. The No side doesn’t have one independent community group endorsing them.

  5. W.S. 2 months ago

    I know that Pat Nikolai ran the Santa Clara POA prior to being elected Police Chief. He had the endorsement of the SCPOA when he ran. I get it – “support your own”. However, I find it interesting the amount of money that is being spent by SCPOA to get a NO vote on Measure B. If Measure B passes and the Police Chief must now be appointed, Pat Nikolai is fully able to apply for the job of Police Chief and go through the vetting and interviewing process. If he has the best and strongest qualifications of all of the candidates, then he will keep his job. AND, as time goes on, his performance will be evaluated, and action taken if there are issues. When he was elected as Police Chief, Pat Nikolai had far fewer qualifications than the Police Chief he replaced. (Note: It would be interesting to find out whether Pat Nikolai has taken FBI and other high-level law enforcement training since he was elected.) Why is the SCPOA spending so much money to defeat Measure B? Is it because they know that Pat Nikolai does not have the strongest qualifications and they are simply trying to protect him? Santa Clara citizens deserve and need, a Police Chief who has the best and strongest qualifications. Being best friends with someone is not a qualification for Police Chief. Campaign flyers only gloss over essential details that citizens need to know.

  6. Santa Clara Voter 2 months ago

    Since Pat Nikolai has said he will not run again, I wonder if the POA will commit to supporting AT LEAST two candidates for Police Chief so that voters can have actually choice? Or maybe they would support a move to removing the residency requirement. Or removing the requirement that the Chief have any previous policing experience. Anything to expand the pool of potential candidates.

    I mean, I know it would be hard for them to support two SCPD candidates since there are only 10 SCPD officers who are even eligible to run, but the truth is the POA wants to pick the ONE candidate who will run, which means the voters really have NO choice.

    Kind of like those countries where only one person is allowed to run, and yet they claim it is a real election.

    We aren’t fooled.

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