“We filed what we were told to file by the [Santa Clara] City Clerk,” said Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC treasurer Dave Tobkin. The new — and false — accusation is City Hall’s latest offensive against the Chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce is a separate legal entity from the Chamber PAC, although the Council majority refers to the two groups interchangeably.
The City Council summarily pulled the Chamber’s longtime contract for operating the Santa Clara Convention Center & Victors Bureau in June, accusing the Chamber of malfeasance and launching an audit.
At Tuesday night’s Council meeting Santa Clara Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe reported that she read in fired Weekly sports writer Robert Haugh’s “online blog” that the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC didn’t file finance reports between 2010 and 2014.
Watanabe asked, with some urgency, that the City Manager investigate this.
Those reports were filed with the County because the PAC endorses county, state assembly and school board candidates and measures, as well as those in the City of Santa Clara. Tobkin says that the PAC later decided to file also with the City, even though they were told by then-City Clerk Rod Diridon Jr. that they didn’t have to.
State law requires that “committees formed or existing primarily to support or oppose candidates or local measures to be voted upon in any number of jurisdictions within one county … shall file the original … with the elections official of the county.”
The County only started publishing the forms digitally in 2016, so if you want to see reports prior to that you have to visit the ROV’s office on Berger Drive in San José. However, the record of the reports that have been filed is published online.
All this information can be found on the California Secretary of State’s website, and candidates and officeholders in California are expected to know what the laws are.