Patty Mahan Votes to Terminate Contract of Company She Lobbied for in 2016

By Robert Haugh

In 2016, Patty Mahan was running for City Council. She was also a lobbyist for controversial billboard company AllVision. But Mahan didn’t register as a lobbyist as required by law. 

That was discovered after a City Clerk candidate that year filed a complaint.  Then, the City hired an investigator, former Sunnyvale City Attorney Joan Borger. In her report, Borger wrote this:

Based upon the foregoing, I conclude Ms. Mahan engaged in lobbying within the meaning of the Lobbying Ordinance when she met with various City officials on AllVision’s behalf, and that she was not exempt from registration as a lobbyist under the attorney exemption.

But Borger also recommended that Mahan not be fined because she didn’t “knowingly” violate the law. A lot of people at the time thought that was a weird conclusion since Mahan is an attorney and should actually know the law in Santa Clara.

On Tuesday night, AllVision was back on the agenda. The City terminated the billboard company’s contract. City sources say they hadn’t done anything in years. And the Mahan ethics violation was a black mark on their record.

The vote was 7-0. Interestingly, Vice Mayor Mahan voted to terminate the contract on Tuesday. That’s a little weird since she worked for them just a few years ago. It also may be another ethics issue since she could have abstained from the vote. And we know Mahan knows how to abstain from votes. Earlier this month, Mahan abstained on a vote to terminate the 49ers stadium contract when she didn’t have to and gave some confusing reasons.

AllVision and Other Controversies

AllVision is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, they were in the middle of a Los Angeles County investigation about how they blocked petition signers from qualifying a ballot measure. 

In 2016, AllVision was working behind the scenes with San Mateo County to put billboards along the scenic areas of Highway 280. According to environmentalists, the billboard company was working with longtime 49er lobbyist Ed McGovern to make it happen.  But the Committee for a Green Foothills and others stopped them. Kudos to the Committee for saving a beautiful drive.

Given their track record, it’s probably good that Santa Clara is not working with AllVision anymore.

Editor’s Note: Mahan was not physically at the Tuesday Council meeting. She called into the meeting from her vacation home in Montana.


  1. Being an lawyer is one thing. Being a good attorney is another. No one said Patty was a GOOD attorney.

    • We have often wondered if ethics and law go together? Is there such a thing as an Ethical Lawyer? Have you ever met a lawyer that gives a straight answer? they tend to give vague non specific answers to questions. It feels like they are a Court Case waiting to Happen or just one away from either starting one or avoiding one. Maybe that’s why Politics shines a bright light towards these creatures. Perhaps she has seen the light and trying to amend her indiscretions maybe she’ll agree to the Niners not having hold over our city and suggest they not run our Stadium Management and do the right thing by the Residents and have a stadium that makes money for the Residents and not her precious Niners.

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