REPORT:  Chamber Makes Illegal $1,000 Contribution to Becker Campaign

By Robert Haugh

We’re not following the Mayor’s race closely. Sorry, but we just don’t think it’ll be a close race. Mayor Lisa Gillmor will cruise to victory. She’s done some great things to turn Santa Clara around. Mission City voters will reward her for it.

Her campaign doesn’t need much help. But she’s getting it anyway from the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC and the Anthony Becker campaign.

It’s like an epic match where James Ellsworth kept making stupid mistakes against the superior AJ Styles. It ended up being a big smackdown. And Styles didn’t really need any extra help to win.

But yesterday, the Chamber PAC filed a report that showed that they contributed $1,000 to Becker for Mayor campaign. Okay, what’s the big deal? They endorsed him.

Well, there’s this funny thing called contribution limits. They’ve existed for decades. It’s clearly spelled out on the City’s website. In Santa Clara, it’s $590 per person, or per PAC. Yup. That’s a lot less than $1,000. So the contribution is illegal and will have to be returned.  D‘oh!

We don’t think the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) will investigate this action. They have more important and serious Chamber investigations to do.

But this was a mistake the Becker campaign should have caught. (Note to Team Becker: there’s a reason no one else is writing checks for more than $590 to you!)

Kudos to the Becker campaign for catching the Chamber’s mistake. According to campaign manager Markus Bracamonte, the campaign did not deposit the check. (See comments). So if there is a fine, the Chamber is the only organization that’s on the hook.

We’ll look for an explanation next week in the Santa Clara Weekly. Maybe PAC Treasurer Dave Tobkin can justify the $1,000. Maybe Tobkin will come up with an interesting explanation just like he justified not filing campaign reports with the city for four years, from 2010 to 2014.

In a story written by Weekly reporter Carolyn Schuk, Tobkin says that then-City Clerk Rod Diridon, Jr. told him not to file reports with the City. But Schuk never asked a basic and obvious follow-up question: then why did you file reports with the City before 2010 and after 2014? We bet in an investigation, the City or the FPPC will ask the obvious.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yesterday, we started having problems with the morning email. Until it’s fixed, you’ll have to visit here directly.

This story was updated to reflect the Becker campaign’s return of the Chamber PAC donation.


  1. “Jack Harkness” sounds like James Rowen or Debby Bress – neither of them even lives in Santa Clara anymore and both of them attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them as corrupt or part of a conspiracy.

    • Thanks (not) for the compliment “Disgusted.” At least I’m willing to post under my own name, unlike you. But Disgusted is a pretty good name though – as I’m disgusted you even commented and were so chicken you refused to post under your name.

      I can assure you, when I get pulled over by the fine officers of the Santa Clara police department and show them my driver’s license, they’re looking at Jack Harkness and *not* James Rowen nor Debby Bress.

      When did I attack anyone? I pointed out that Robert’s story was lame – it was. As was his UsE oF MIxEd CaSe and ridiculously small fonts. I stated I used to enjoy reading his columns when he worked for the Weekly, but he’s sold his soul since starting this “blog.”

      Who do you see when you look in the mirror – or are you disgusted with what stares back at you.

  2. I agree the COC flubbed on this, and per the appointed City Clerk, has amended their contribution and form 497. If they wanted to get $1000 for Anthony Becker’s campaign they should have encouraged member to make individual contributions. I imagine many of those small business owners active in the COC have. Alternatively, COC could have made “independent expenditures” for candidates. Even more effectively they could have laundered their money into a larger PAC, which could consolidate various PAC contributions for more efficient “independent” spending for flyers and other campaign efforts. For example the denounced $49k BluPAC dark money scenario. Fortunately, the Council, revised the Charter to make those contributors more transparent. That, though, of course, did not eliminate the “gray money” scenario which funded the 2016 campaign efforts for those same Council members; most obviously the $100k funding from the POAPAC of which $85k came from Developers and commercial building owners either through their own PACs or directly. The COC flubbed here on their format. There are other PAC options. I’d like to see SCN investigate and publish those, and not just one that happened to support a candidate you oppose.

  3. What a lame story Robert. Why don’t you try to actually report news instead of acting like Lisa’s lapdog doing her bidding.

    IF you’re so interested in reporting, then you’d note that Lisa Gillmor has raised over $12,000 from organizations, developers, unions, lawyers – all outside Santa Clara. But will you report that? Nah… with Lisa and Jude are financing you, there’s no need for you to actually do any work.

    Talk about beholden! Lisa’s been bought and paid for – cash on delivery. And you’re just as dirty as she is. Her paid mouthpiece who is Captain Courageous – a keyboard warrior.

    Anthony Becker might not be perfect, but he’s perfectly good for what Santa Clara needs – someone who isn’t bought and paid for by special interests!

    At some point in time in the dark recesses of your memories, you used to be a decent writer. I used to look forward to reading your columns. But then you sold your soul and became a fake. You and this blog are nothing but a sham.

    And what’s with the multiple fonts and sizes? Is reality finally sinking in that you no longer have any integrity and you’ll happily publish whatever you’re told? All it does for this lame story is show how childish and petty you’ve become.

    • I will reiterate, no one has ever funded this site. I’ve never received a penny from anyone to manage this site.

    • Fine… you’ve never received one penny to manage the site.

      But what about payments made to you for posting crap written by your Masters – Lisa and Jude? Or for posting the stuff you claim to write – FiLLeD WiTH MiXeD CaSE CHArACTerS?

      Maybe you could open your books Robert so everyone can see where you’re getting your money from? You supposedly just sit in your home writing your blog. What do you do to earn a living to support you and your daughter? Did you strike it rich in the stock market? Let’s hear how you pay to support yourself so you can show Jude and Lisa aren’t funding you.

    • I have never received on penny from anyone to post on this website. Ever. Period. If you’ve followed this site, you’d know I work multiple jobs, including a full time graveyard job, as well as part time work as an assistant pre-school teacher. I have also done quite a lot of freelance writing such as press releases for various motor sports teams and events. I have nothing to hide. I work hard to get by. This site is a Labor if love. It’s never provided a single penny to my pocket. In fact, it’s actually an expense out of pocket. Despite what you may hear, think or believe, no one writes for this site, outside of the obvious guest opinions with bylines showing the authors.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Just what society needs. More adults lacking moral judgement teaching children. And we thought it was bad with CASHerta teaching. SCUSD will have their work cut out for them with you teaching our future leaders.

  4. Robert
    to confirm we never deposited the check. We knew the rules ourselves, but we wanted to confirm with the city clerks office in which we got no answers, therefore we did not deposit the check per city rules and returned it immediately. We needed answers and city hall denied us, even though we read the rules over and over. We have done no wrong

  5. Robert
    As Anthony Becker’s campaign manager this is our statement
    we never accepted $1,000 contribution, we denied it, we refused the check, and returned it, we called the city clerks office where they told us to call an attorney or FPPC office. Our city clerks office was not doing their job by providing us info on reporting and if it’s legal. This is a failure on our city clerks role while at same time proving how incoherent city hall is. We asked for help and we got nothing.
    This is why the city needed an ethics advisor like 2016 elections.
    We on the Becker campaign know the rules of $590 maximum donations.
    All of our donations are from Santa Clara residents not from special interests, developers and lobbyists unlike Anthony’s opponent. We are running a clean, ethical, transparent campaign and your facts are wrong and need to be pointed out. We never accepted the money because we knew the rules, questioned it and went through every avenue to discuss it. We did our job the city didn’t help.

    • Markus,

      Thanks for the additional info. I just want to confirm that when you say you “denied it” does that mean that you never deposited the check? If so, I’ll update my report and compliment you for catching it.

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