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Santa Clara Election 2018 Follow the Money Update: PACs and Related Execs Jump In

Campaign donations have accelerated since the September campaign finance reports, with plenty of treats from real estate and union interests for mayoral candidate Lisa Gillmor and City Council District 2 candidate Nancy Biagini. Direct donations so far have reached about $117,000 cumulatively, while spending by PACs currently stands at $60,000

Gillmor, Biagini and candidates for City Clerk Hosam Haggag and Bob O’Keefe were also beneficiaries of independent expenditures last week by the developer-financed Santa Clara Police Association PAC — 2018 is a contract negotiation year.

Gillmor also received donations from eight individual Related Companies executives, as well as one from Related partner Griffin Structures. Related is developing the $6 billion City Place across the street from Levi’s Stadium, the largest development project in the City’s history.


Candidates who aren’t noted raised no additional money in the last month.


Council District 3: Hardy Relies on Grassroots, Sambathkumar Lends Himself More Money 

District 3 candidate Karen Hardy just crossed the campaign reporting threshold of $2,000, with $3,200 in her campaign bank. Hardy has $2,000 in cash donations from individuals, $340 of in-kind donations, and an $800 loan to her campaign. Santa Clara Unified School Board Member Michele Ryan is among Hardy’s donors.

The other candidate for District 3, Srivinasan Sambathkumar (Sam Kumar), added $24,500 to his campaign war chest last week — $24,000 of it more loans to himself. This brings his total campaign fund to $31,000 and gives him the second largest campaign treasury.

Most of his spending was on a mailer in which he blamed Hardy, a high school math teacher, for what he characterized as unacceptable math performance by Santa Clara Unified’s 20,000 students.

Other Sambathkumar donors include Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe, the Santa Clara County Democratic Club ($100), and the Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council PAC, San José ($500).


Council District 2: Chahal’s People, Biagini’s PACs

Candidate for District 2, Raj Chahal, received another $5,800 in donations, increasing his total campaign fund to $18,000. All of Chahal’s money comes from individuals. The Santa Clara Chamber PAC also spent $315 on independent expenditures for Chahal.

Also running for District 2, candidate Nancy Biagini raised another $5,500 this month, putting her in third place in the money race with $20,000. This is in addition to independent expenditures by the AFL-CIO Labor Council Committee on Political Education PAC ($10,000) and the Santa Clara Police Officers Association ($12,000) PAC — the total of which is equal to Biagini’s entire current campaign treasury.

Most of Biagini’s new donations come from union PACs:

  • San Ramon Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local No 104 PAC, San Ramon – $590
  • Unite Here Tip State & Local Fund, New York, NY – $590
  • Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1172 – $590
  • Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Small Contributor Committee, Oakland – $590
  • Laborers Local Union 270 PAC Small Contributor Committee, Sacramento – $590
  • CWA – COPE PAC, Washington, DC – $590
  • Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council PAC, San José – $590
  • Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local 393 PAC Small Contributor Committee, Sacramento – $590


City Clerk: Haggag Keeps Up the Fundraising Pace, Opponents Lag Behind

Candidate for City Clerk Hosam Haggag collected another $3,500 in the last month, bringing his campaign bank up to $15,700. Haggag’s donors — which are all individuals — include San José resident Kirk Vartan and Mission City Community Fund Board Member Robin Burdick. Haggag’s campaign treasury is three times those of all his opponents combined…

The POA PAC also spent $6,300 on mailers for Haggag.

The campaign of Bob O’Keefe for City Clerk raised another $1,370 in direct donations, including donations from Santa Clara Deputy Fire Marshall Augie Wiedermann and the Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171 PAC ($295).

More notable, however, is the fact that the POA PAC spent $12,700 on mailers for O’Keefe, making him second only to Biagini in PAC spending.

Candidate for City Clerk Peta Roberts added another $450 loan to herself and $243 in contributions from individuals. This brings Roberts campaign receipts up to $3,000. The Chamber PAC also spent $315 on independent expenditures for Roberts.


Mayor’s Race: Gillmor Money Juggernaut vs. Becker Volunteer Corps

Candidate for Mayor Anthony Becker brought in another $3,000 in individual donations, bringing his campaign funds up to $9,400. Becker’s new donors include the Santa Clara Chamber PAC ($590) and former Mayor Larry Fargher. The Chamber PAC also spent $315 on independent expenditures for Becker.

Becker’s campaign spending is primarily on expenditures for food and gasoline for his precinct-walking volunteers.

Incumbent Mayor Lisa Gillmor continues to lead the Santa Clara political money race, bringing in $16,900 in the last month and boosting her campaign account to $36,600. Adding to this, the POA PAC has so far spent $6,300 in independent expenditures for Gillmor.

Gillmor got direct donations from the same labor PACs that donated to Biagini. She also pulled in money from Dawn Democratic Activists For Women Now, seven more real estate and construction businesses and eight Related executives:

  • Dawn Democratic Activists For Women Now, San José – $590
  • Development and real estate: Vasona Management, Los Gatos – $250; Cambridge Management, Santa Clara – $250; Acco Management/Avery Construction, Mountain View – $250; Tod Spieker, Palo Alto – $250; Woodmont Real Estate, Belmont – $250; Rose Building, San José – $590; Richard Kramer, chairman of Republic Holdings (Railroad Ave. high density student housing project), Palm Beach – $590; Griffin Holdings (Related partner), Irvine – $590.
  • Related executives and employees: Stephen Eimer, Carmel – $590; William Witte, Laguna Beach – $590, Scott Borland, Manhattan Beach – $590; Kenneth Himmel, New York, NY – $590; Joshua Young, New York, NY – $590; Anthony Mosellie, Stamford, Conn. – $590; Nicholas Vanderboom, San Francisco – $590. Community College Trustee Anne Kepner, former Council Member Will Kennedy, and Santa Clara Unified Board Member and Sunnyvale resident Mark Richardson are among Gillmor’s donors.

Gillmor spent most of her campaign money on mailers, and for web work and online advertising from Gabe Foo — Santa Clara Youth Soccer League past president and current VP and a founder of the divisive Stand Up for Santa Clara political group.


Santa Clara Chamber PAC Jumps In 

The Santa Clara Chamber PAC started spending in October, putting about $13,000 into independent expenditures — almost $12,000 on mailers opposing Gillmor. The Chamber PAC receives its money from member businesses and their owners.

Two Chamber PAC donors appear to be hedging their bets by donating also to the opponents of the Chamber-endorsed candidates: Citation Homes — a big donor to the Santa Clara POA PAC — and CORE Affordable Housing lobbyist and Gillmor donor Ash Pirayou. The Chamber PAC has received no donations from other PACs.

The rush is on for last minute campaign donations, and new financial reports are being filed daily. Independent expenditure PACs must file reports on spending within 24 hours of the donation or expenditure. You can view filings at the Santa Clara City Clerk’s webpage.


Full disclosure: the Santa Clara Weekly purchased a foursome at a Santa Clara Chamber PAC golf tournament earlier this year. 

Correction: City Clerk candidate Bob O’Keefe’s donation details were left out of the original version of this article. Additionally, several independent expenditures were reported yesterday as we going to press. We reported on three of them, but missed the fourth, an $12,798 independent expenditure by the Santa Clara POA PAC for O’Keefe. The article has been updated to reflect the most current information. We regret these omissions.


  1. Hosam Haggag 5 years ago

    Once again you omit Bob from this paragraph:
    “Gillmor, Biagini and candidate for City Clerk Hosam Haggag were also beneficiaries of independent expenditures last week by the developer-financed Santa Clara Police Association PAC — 2018 is a contract negotiation year.”

  2. Campaign donations 5 years ago

    One of the reasons for having district election was to lower the cost of running for office along with having a more diverse group of candidates. As we see can ,nothing has change !
    I have run my campaign by not seeking any funds or endorsement from any special interest groups.
    I look foward representing all Santa Clarans.
    Mario Bouza
    Candidate for District#2

  3. David Massa 5 years ago

    Why is it legal to raise funds from outside not only the city, but the state for a local election? In my opinion, city candidates should only be allowed to raise funds within the city where they’re running for office. Had I known much of this information sooner my support would’ve been focused elsewhere. It won’t happen again.

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