For Related Companies’ lobbyist Jude Barry politics is business — from selling campaign consulting and lobbying to selling software. But the fact that his business partners and campaign software products have been showing up in Santa Clara with increasing frequency in recent years raises questions.
His closeness to Mayor Lisa Gillmor is well known. They worked together on the campaign to build Levi’s Stadium in 2010 — his first known involvement in Santa Clara politics. Although his name hasn’t appeared on any Santa Clara campaign report, his companies have and accusations were made in 2016 that he was running campaigns. Added to the connections he has with people hired by the City and those lobbying the City, the evidence suggests that his activity at City Hall and in City politics goes beyond lobbying for his client, Related.
Selling Political Savvy
Barry’s first known company is his lobbying and political consulting firm, Catapult Strategies, formed in 2001 with former Mercury News sports writer Peter Allen and John Neece, the former CEO of Santa Clara and San Benito Building and Construction Trades Council.
Catapult also earned $3,000 for “blog advertising” from 2007’s Obama for America PAC, which Barry founded with national politico Joe Trippi and attorney lobbyist Steven Churchwell — who, despite having no experience in California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) litigation, would go on to defend Santa Clara in the voting rights case it just lost.
At one time or another, Barry has been the lobbyist and consultant for many high profile politicians, companies and major projects.
According to state records, Barry grossed $350,000 from state campaigns between 2005 and 2008.
Locally, his clients have included former San José Mayor Ron Gonzalez, disgraced former County Supervisor George Shirakawa, Board of Supervisors candidate Teresa Alvarado, Walmart, Santa Clara’s 2010 Measure J, Related Companies and American Medical Response (AMR), the private ambulance company running county operations.
In 2012 Barry was involved in a negative campaign against former Santa Clara Unified School Board Trustee Christopher Stampolis.
That same year Barry also ran a campaign that collected almost $300,000 to attack Stampolis’ then-wife, Anna Song, who was running for re-election to the County Board of Education. Its address was Barry’s San José office, which is next door to the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce — which has also been a Barry client, according to the Catapult website. *
The PAC was created and funded by charter schools and charter advocacy groups and it paid Barry and his co-chair, political consultant Jay Rosenthal (JMR Strategic), at least $10,000 each according to FPPC filings.** Rosenthal is also a former Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce VP of Public Policy and, like Barry, a former member of San José Mayor Gonzalez’ staff.
The PAC operation was strikingly similar to the independent expenditure operation run by the Santa Clara Peace Officers’ Association (POA) in 2016, where big donations were funneled through the PAC and reported late in the election cycle — called by one online observer a “stealth PAC.”
For Barry, elections aren’t just an opportunity to sell political know-how, they’re also product sales opportunities. Since 2007, he has made a steady stream of product introductions timed to major elections.
Around 2007, he founded Verafirma, an online petition signing company with partners Michael Marubio, Michael Ni and Santa Clara future CVRA defense attorney Churchwell.
Verafirma was used by Ni to sign a petition for a marijuana ballot measure in 2010, but his signature was rejected. Ni filed a lawsuit against the San Mateo Registrar of Voters, which he lost. Churchwell, as well as being a company co-founder, was also Verafirma’s attorney in the case.
Around that time, Barry was blacklisted by labor organizations after allegedly doing business with the anti-labor campaign, the Paycheck Protection Act, which required unions to get members’ approval before dues could be spent on political campaigns. Labor saw it as part of the nationwide movement to disrupt the unions’ political power.
Four years following Verafirma, Barry, Marubio and Jonathan Padilla founded AllPoint Voter Services, an online voter registration company. Padilla was a 2015 candidate for San José City Council, but never ran after the County refused to accept the electronic signatures he gathered. After his failed attempt at a San José Council run, Padilla became a board member of the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.
AllPoint was paid $95,000 to run the North Carolina 2012 Obama voter registration campaign, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
In Santa Clara, Barry’s businesses also made sales, specifically with at least one of Mayor Gillmor’s preferred 2016 candidates and with the recent Gillmor-endorsed Measure A.
Barry’s VoterPros, a campaign-in-a-box service with integration to the NationBuilder web platform and social media data-scraping tools, was founded with Marubio, Chris Weiss, Morty Shallman and Ro Khanna campaign advisor John Shallman.
The company first came on scene in 2016 and was paid $10,215 by Santa Clara Police Chief candidate Pat Nikolai. The WEEKLY has knowledge that Barry approached at least one additional 2016 candidate who declined to use Barry’s software.
A New Product for a New Election
In 2016, Nikolai was the president of the Santa Clara POA. Although he no longer sits at the helm, in May the Santa Clara POA PAC ran push polls using the services of another Barry business, Voxloca, a text messaging robocall service Barry founded in 2017 with software engineer Ryan Buckley. The two met working on the Garamendi campaign in Sacramento.
According to Buckley’s blog, the company received $3,000 for the service, which was used for two slanted push polls, the first about Measure A and the second about Council Member Patricia Mahan. Neither of these polls appeared to be related to the public safety agency that conducted the poll.
While no record of this expenditure has been filed as of this writing, the Santa Clara firefighters union and police union PACs each reported independent expenditures totaling slightly more than $3,000 in the June 5 election for legal services from an election law attorney closely tied to Santa Clara County Democratic party and local labor politics, Bianca Pirayou. The POA PAC paid $2,400 for “law services prior to 1/8/18,” and the Firefighter’s PAC paid $643.50 for “law services.”
More Money-Making Connections, This Time in L.A.
Barry has other connections to Bianca Pirayou and her husband, also an attorney, Ash Pirayou — the campaign treasurer for Barry’s former employer San José Mayor Ron Gonzalez. San Fernando politician Bob Hertzenberg paid Catapult $48,000 for consulting in Hertzenberg’s unsuccessful 2005 primary run for Mayor of Los Angeles. The Pirayous each donated $1,000 to Hertzenberg’s campaign.
Ash Pirayou is also a registered lobbyist in Santa Clara and San José, meeting with Mayor Gillmor in 2016 and 2017 about redevelopment property, and in March 2018 about “city matters.”
What Does it Mean?
Given Barry’s experience and reported closeness to Mayor Gillmor it’s surprising that his consulting services don’t appear on any City campaign reports. Some at City Hall have dubbed him “the eighth Council Member,” evidenced by the number of reported meetings he has had at City Hall that appear to have nothing to do with his official business in Santa Clara as a lobbyist for Related Companies.
An FPPC complaint was filed in 2016 alleging that Barry was providing unpaid campaign consulting to three of Mayor Lisa Gillmor’s slate of City Council candidates, although the complaint didn’t result in any FPPC action. The same three campaigns filed amended reports at the end of January 2017 showing payments to a new campaign consulting firm — Foo Robertson Marketing, which doesn’t have a Santa Clara business license or a website — formed by former Santa Clara Youth Soccer League president Gabe Foo at the end of December 2016, well after the election for which he was said to have provided services.
The more that’s known about Barry’s connections, the more questions are raised about his influence at Santa Clara City Hall. Was he involved in Measure A? Was he involved in the City hiring a defense attorney without experience in voting rights litigation? What role did he have in the 2016 campaign or the proposed aquatics center project?
As Barry has been on Related’s payroll since 2012, all of this raises questions about Related’s aims in the City. Related executives individually made eleventh hour donations to the 2016 campaign of Gillmor ally Tino Silva (another soccer league former president). Silva was running against Planning Commissioner Raj Chahal, whose ideas about developing the City’s 240-acre golf course differ from Related’s City Place plan. Related Chairman Steven Ross might have been so inspired by candidate Silva that he wrote a check. But it’s more likely he did so at the direct or indirect behest of his paid lobbyist, one with many political irons in many fires.
*The SV/SJCoC took a $200,000 donation from the billionaire Arnold family’s Action Now dark money 501(c)(4), made at the request of former Mayor Chuck Reed. Various Arnold organizations funded Santa Clara’s Measure A, both directly — via their dark money Action Now Initiative LLC — and indirectly — via donations to Maryland-based FairVote by the Arnolds’ 501(c)(3) Foundation.
**Another vendor hired by the Schools PAC was San Francisco-based public opinion pollster Tulchin Research, which, along with Barry (at $325 an hour) was hired as a sub-contractor to Project Finance Advisory LLC (PFAL), the company hired last year by the City Council to find a strategy for getting voter approval for an unfunded $200 million Aquatics and Community Center.
Correction: In our Aug. 1 story, “Related’s Consultant Jude Barry’s Business is Politics,” we incorrectly said that Barry worked on Magdalena Carrasco’s San José City Council campaign. He worked on Teresa Alvarado’s 2010 campaign for county supervisor.