Santa Clara’s California Voting Rights Act lawsuit now has provided employment for yet another lawyer.
FairVote — the Maryland-based ranked choice voting lobbying group that funded and staffed the Yes on Measure A campaign — is looking to impose Measure A by judicial fiat after the proposal failed at the ballot box. FairVote isn’t a party to the lawsuit.
Last week FairVote filed a 20-page “friend of the court” — amicus curiae — brief asking Judge Thomas Kuhnle to impose an at-large City Council election system with restricted voting in 2018 and single transferable vote/ranked choice (STV/RC) voting thereafter.
FairVote’s attorney is San José attorney Gautam Dutta.
Dutta has written editorials about ranked choice voting and brought an unsuccessful lawsuit against California’s top-two primary system, with one of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit being another Measure A evangelist, Californians for Electoral Reform’s Steve Chessin.
But Dutta has a more direct connection to Santa Clara.
He represented the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League in a lawsuit against the City of Santa Clara in 2015 over NFL use of the soccer park during Super Bowl 50. The league, and Dutta, lost that case.
Tino Silva — Chair of the Charter Review Committee that proposed Measure A and a strong ally of Mayor Lisa Gillmor — was the soccer league’s president when the suit against the City was filed, according to the organization’s website.
Silva went on to run a losing campaign for City Council in 2016, benefitting from $65,000 in Santa Clara Police Officers Association PAC expenditures funded by developers and the California Apartment Association, and $3,000 in direct contributions from Related Companies executives, included its Chairman Steven Ross.
FairVote donated $40,000 directly in cash and services to Yes on A. Another $45,000 was poured into the campaign by FairVote financiers hedge fund billionaires John and Laura Arnold via their dark money LLC, Action Now Initiative.