By Robert Haugh
The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC is having a bad year. And they can’t blame Jimmy Garoppolo or Jon Gruden for their record.
The TAP International convention center audit discovered that the Chamber illegally funneled money to its PAC. The City is sending this to the IRS and District Attorney’s office for further investigation.
The PAC lost a longtime director, Lou Mariani. He’s the point man for the massive Mariani development proposal on El Camino Real. Mariani probably doesn’t need more controversy in his life. The people still calling the shots at the PAC are lobbyist/publisher Miles Barber, school board member Andy Ratermann and CPA Dave Tobkin. Tobkin is the treasurer who’s legally responsible for reports and checks.
As we reported, the PAC failed to file campaign reports with the City for four years between 2010 and 2014. We think that’ll result in a fine. That’s what happened when the notorious dark money group BluPAC failed to do the same reporting.
Two days ago, we reported that the PAC made an illegal contribution of $1,000 to the Anthony Becker for Mayor campaign. That’s over the limit.
One day after our reporting, they corrected their $1,000 mistake.
Fixing one out of four mistakes ain’t bad. Or maybe it is. Maybe we’re being easy graders.
The City sent out a press release yesterday saying the Chamber PAC reissued a check for $590. That’s the contribution limit. Everyone except the PAC seemed to know that. But better late than never.
In the press release, the City spent the most time correcting the Becker campaign. City Clerk Nadine Nader said no one called. And if they had, the City wouldn’t give them legal advice.
This is not what Becker campaign manager Markus Bracamonte wrote a couple days ago on this site and other places online. Bracamonte says he called the City after getting the $1,000 PAC check. He blamed City staff for not helping. But there’s no record of the call. We’re not sure what help Bracamonte needed. Or why he would call. The campaign returned the check to the PAC after all.
We asked Bracamonte for comment. He was good enough to respond even though he didn’t want to answer the question. Here’s what Bracamonte emailed:
“We will not be issuing any more statements about this incident. We would like to move on from this situation. This has been unnecessary drama for a situation we corrected. I would like to thank you for updating your story to reflect we did not cash the check. “
Today is the final day that Santa Clara campaigns can receive checks. That’s probably a good thing for the Chamber PAC and the Becker campaign.