GUEST OPINION: From Political Dark Money to Judicial Dark Money

By Burt Field, Stand Up for Santa Clara

Yesterday, a law firm with connections to the 49ers filed a frivolous lawsuit against Mayor Lisa Gillmor about how she files her economic interest forms.

Months ago, the firm was told by the District Attorney that there was absolutely no merit to their complaint.  Here’s what District Attorney Jeff Rosen wrote:

“The Public Integrity Unit investigated whether income to Public Property Advisors was properly reported on Mayor Gillmor’s Forms 700. After reviewing documents, interviewing witnesses, conducting legal research, and consulting an FPPC representative, we concluded that Ms. Gillmor properly reported the income.”

But they filed a lawsuit anyway — just two weeks before the election when Mayor Gillmor is on the ballot.

This reminds us of 2016 when the dark money group call BluPAC was sending negative mailers and text messages to Santa Clarans to try to buy our city council elections. The dark money group had numerous ties to the 49ers. The team would not deny their involvement in funding BluPAC.

Now, McManis Faulkner, a major San Jose law firm, is filing the lawsuit against Mayor Gillmor on behalf of Brian Exline — a Santa Clara University law student.  It’s not believable that Mr. Exline is paying the firm. So who is? Is it the 49ers? Is this the equivalent of “dark money” being used in our judicial system?

Let’s hope the true source of funding is uncovered. Above all, let’s hope that voters reject someone using a frivolous lawsuit right before the election. I think they will and Mayor Gillmor will enjoy a big victory on election night.

Editor’s Note: Burt Field is one of the founders of Stand Up for Santa Clara — “a watchdog organization fighting for an Open, Honest and Transparent Government in the city of Santa Clara. We are a grassroots organization staffed by dedicated volunteers working to educate and engage the citizens of Santa Clara.”



  1. Brian Exline should change his last name to Exlax after allowing himself to be part of this hit on the Mayor.

  2. I guess Mahan has gotten her hands dirty again. They are using a college student to take the fall. What a bunch of creeps.

  3. Why is a Santa Clara University law student involved in any way with a harassment suit against a mayoral candidate in the university’s host community? That, to me, is the greater question.

  4. I saw the article in the Murky Newz this morning. You had to dig to find the short paragraph that said it was bogus. (the one you showed)
    I have decided the Russians are paying McManis Faulkner. Call it REDPAC..

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