By Robert Haugh
We predicted the Santa Clara Chamber PAC would shoot themselves in the foot. They did.
The Chamber PAC wasted money on a horrendous looking ad on the Santa Clara Weekly website urging the community to write the Council to leave disgraced Councilman Dominic Caserta’s seat vacant. They never figured out that 80 percent of Santa Clara voters supported the idea of an appointment. And 4 of 6 (66 percent) councilmembers liked the idea, too.
Seriously. This shouldn’t surprise us. The Chamber PAC has a poor record of choosing candidates.
In 2016, they led the effort to oppose the re-election of Debi Davis and Kathy Watanabe. Chamber PAC Board member Miles Barber, Development Lobbyist/Publisher of the Santa Clara Weekly, even wrote an offensive editorial in Trumpian fashion saying that they “can’t spell their own names”. Yes, he actually wrote that.
Davis and Watanabe won in landslides.
We’ve also documented the Chamber PAC and it’s close relationship with the Chamber. The Chamber even sent out an advertisement for the PAC golf fundraiser.
Since the Chamber gets city funds, that’s an improper use of their money. Some have suggested it’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the Chamber is commingling a lot of their funds.
Self-dealing has also been a talking point in the community. Barber is on the PAC and plays an active role in the Chamber’s decision. And his paper gets ads from the PAC and the Chamber. That’s also not allowed.
To what extent is there a commingling of funds and self dealing? We don’t know yet because the Chamber won’t disclose documents the city has been requesting. And not all Chamber directors have turned in financial disclosure forms as required by law.
We asked Nick Kaspar if they would. Kaspar was the interim Chamber CEO who was just made the CEO a few days ago. He said they were “working with” city staff. But Kaspar would not say if they would provide all the required documents. Chamber Board President Joe Siecinski is the person who multiple sources say is opposed to turning over documents. He would not respond to our request for comment.
The Chamber PAC continues shooting themselves in the foot. But with their Convention Center “management fee” being cut off, they may not have many bullets left.