On Thursday, former Mayor and Council Member Patricia Mahan filed a complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission [mahan fppc complaint 2020] about Santa Clara City Attorney Brian Doyle’s recent “Impartial Analysis of Measure C” mailer.
Mahan contends that the mailer, combined with Doyle’s social media attacks on Measure C opponents — which included calling opponents “naïve” — adds up to a City Hall misinformation campaign for the Measure C.
“The current administration, under direction from Mayor Gillmor, City Manager Deanna Santana, and City Attorney Doyle, have continued to use public funds for the purposes of elections,” wrote Mahan.
“Unfortunately, the Mayor and the majority block have cornered City staff to only taking their guidance, making it almost impossible for me to stop some of the city’s improper activities during my time in office.”
“What I saw happening with Measure A*,” Mahan said in an interview, “is even more blatant with Measure C. These mailers aren’t about voter education.
“They are endorsing Measure C,” she continued. “People I talk to don’t even think these flyers are from the City. When I tell them [the fliers come from the City] they ask why the City is promoting the measure. These materials cross the line.”
Mahan further notes that the City Attorney, posts on social media “during the work day and denigrates opponents to Measure C. There’s nothing impartial about them.” [doyle posts]
The mailers are not only biased, Mahan says, they are also misleading — one criteria for deciding when legal informing becomes illegal advocacy — in claiming that the judge’s 2018 order only applied to 2018 and 2020.
“He [Doyle] has stated publicly many times that he does not believe that the judge’s order changes our charter,” she said. “The plain reading of the order does [page 9].” [2018 cvra remedy order]
Mahan contrasts City Hall’s current activities with Santa Clara’s former voter education programs.
“These always came before the Council for approval,” Mahan said. “The former City Clerk Rod Diridon Jr. would write up the details, and all the work was done in house. There were no consultants.
“In the past, voter education was about how to discriminate when people got campaign material; how to identify the sources and understand the campaign process. There was never advocacy for any ballot measures.”
*In 2018 Measure A proposed two districts with three at-large seats and was endorsed by the same officials now endorsing Measure C. The measure lost decisively despite a Yes on A campaign with a $92,000 war chest largely financed by out-of-state money.