BREAKING NEWS: Developer SiliconSage and Candidate Harbir Bhatia Under Investigation for Lobbyist Ordinance Violation

By Robert Haugh

Earlier this week, the City sent a warning letter to Sunnyvale-based developer SiliconSage that the company and its employees “likely” violated Santa Clara’s lobbyist ordinance.

The City is now investigating which employees lobbied before it can determine a fine. One of those employees is Harbir Bhatia. She is a City Council candidate in district one.

The lobbyist ordinance was established in 2016. It requires companies and individuals to register as lobbyists if they are trying to influence decisions at City Hall.

We received a copy of the letter sent to SiliconSage CEO Sanjeev Acharya from Santa Clara City Clerk Hosam Haggag.

That letter documents five different meetings between 2017 and 2019 attended by Acharya and five SiliconSage employees at City Hall. None of them registered as lobbyists.

The letter also asks for information about the work of Bhatia. According to Haggag’s letter, Bhatia was the subject of a citizen’s complaint about her possible lobbying activity for SiliconSage.

According to a reliable source, the citizen’s complaint also questioned Bhatia’s involvement in the massive Mariani development project on El Camino Real and her need to register.

Bhatia has hidden her association with SiliconSage during her campaign. We wrote about that last week.

We also wrote a story last year about how Bhatia helped Mariani’s project. But no one on the Mariani team registered as lobbyists. 

This is a developing story.

26 comments

  1. It’s right there on Bhatia’s shiny, expensive, heavy-cardboard-stock flyer:

    “Committee Major Funding from: John Edward (Jed) York and Affiliated Entities, including Forty Niners Football Company, LLC”

    Harbir Bhatia – bought and paid for by the SF 49ers! Why on EARTH would you vote for someone who the 49ers have in their pocket? How much more of this city do you want them to control?

    “A Brighter Future” – for the 49ers!

  2. She was there taking notes for Lou out of the kindness of her heart? Yea right! She’s not going to get my vote!

  3. Once again, all I can say is that Kathy has been incredibly responsive to the needs of people on the North Side. I live in the 49ers backyard neighborhood, and appreciate having a council member who is not in the 49ers back pocket to represent us. I see no reason to vote for a candidate who may or may not end up actively engaging with members of the north side community in a positive, helpful manner as Kathy has done.

  4. Habir you lied to my face, no burden here. You must have done a good job for Lou as you or were later put on the board of the debunked Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce.

    It’s obvious to me you’ll do anything to get ahead including sell the City out to the 49ers in the name of racial Justice. Perhaps your next story Time can be Pinocchio.

  5. Not many people vote for lies and deception. Habir seems to enjoy her lack of honesty. Spend your 49er money wisely.

    The good people of the north side know how well they have it with Kathy Watanabe. Kathy is honest, available, and proven.

  6. Richard, I got the same story when I asked Habir about her working on the Mariani project meetings. I remember the data posted by Habir was not clean cut and when i tried to drill down it ended up getting changed and some data posted was for their use only. We couldn’t see much about who attended. It was kinda fuzzy.

  7. Hahaa…I’ve not been served with any letter from anyone, let alone the City Clerk, about any City ordinance that maybe claimed I violated. Look. We’re thirty days from election. My opponent sees she’s losing. Must be desperate and pulling doesn’t he city clerk with her!?! I’m about doing best for residents in my district. My opponent is apparently focused on this inside baseball bs. We are bigger than that.
    Again thanks for the mention! At least people know I have got you guys scared! Hehehehe ! Go team Harbir!

    • Wow Harbir, this is the way you talk to voters and your potential constituents? You sound like a teenager, not a City Councilperson. And your language/communication skills are awful; some of what you wrote is juvenile or unintelligible. Will you communicate this way in council meetings, or will Jed York provide you with scripts? Is taking money from the 49ers doing the best for residents in your district?

      Nobody is scared – just disappointed in your sellout of your city.

    • Harbir, Your comment was very unprofessional and childish. You sound like teenager. “ Hahaa, Hehehehe, b.s.”, what’s that all about? And did you even read your email before hitting send? Your email does not make sense. Is this what we have to look forward to if you are elected? I wish I had read this before your representative came to my door with your flyer. I could have told him then I will definitely NOT be voting for you.

    • Not opining either way. The basis of the article is the referenced from the City Clerk. Don’t you want to see it?

  8. Wait a moment
    Isn’t Robert Mezzetti who is running too an actual registered lobbyist for a developer ? this is sounds a little hypocritical.

    • Robert Mezzetti did list himself as a Lobbyist. In the write ups I have seen, he has included this info about his background both as a Lobbyist as well as an Attorney.
      Mr. Mezzetti wanted to be out in front of all of this going back to the time a few years ago when he first registered himself as a Lobbyist with the City.
      He has done nothing wrong, and if elected will recuse himself before any vote or discussion takes place where he might have some involvement / influence / interest.
      So where it may sound hypocritical, it is in fact the way this is handled.
      Burt Field

      • Mr. Field
        your response is confusing in the fact that you are ok with a registered lobbyist who works for a developer running for council. You are ok with that on council ? Those are red flags. You speak about niners often and this concerns me too because it is developers funding the POA & a lobbyist candidate Mezzetti. So you could say that developers like related are trying to take over our city. It is kind of hypocritical that you are siding with the developers who are doing same thing as Niners.
        As for recusing ? that is not good at all. We need fully invested councilmembers not ones with many conflicts of interest. He is also Mayor Gillmor’s attorney and has worked for her father Gary Gillmor too.
        We do not need current registered lobbyists on council as well as the Mayors attorney.
        Bob O’Keefe as well is concerning with his record of violating peoples civil rights.

        • Ginny, fair questions for sure.
          In a perfect world we would have full time positions for the qualified candidates to run for and hold. In many big Cities that is the case. San Jose is our Neighbor and the City Council and Mayor are compensated accordingly.
          These are easy numbers to look up since the pay to elected officials is made public.
          So given that situation, we as local residents must make choices that best serve our City. It is a limited pool, that even someone like yourself could entertain the opportunity to run for office.
          Is this a perfect system, of course not. But for us, in 2020, this is what we have to work with.
          So whomever you feel comfortable voting for, I encourage you to vote for them. All I can say is I am very comfortable with the choices I will be making in November.

          Ginny, thank’s for asking me these questions. We are just two residents, doing what we can for the City. I respect that.
          Have a great one.
          Burt Field

          • Burt, I agree with you and Ginny, look we all know that the 49ers are spending money to elect council members they want and Developers are given money to the POA who sends out Notices in support of candidates that Lisa wants. Again I’m good with both as long as we know up front. So let’s not throw stones at one group when the other group does the same thing. Let’s all do our homework and vote for the best candidate for District 6

            • Hey George, all I can say is Jed York’s $250K donation is going to buy a lot more social media and pretty mailers than $25K. Both developers/companies are spending money on *their* candidates but the amounts being spent says a lot.

              • Did you see the TV commercial that was run yesterday during the Monday Night Football telecast? It was so awesome they ran it back to back.. At the end of the commercial I felt like I needed to vote for her given I was lead to believe that only Mother Teresa was a better person for their community.
                I must have missed the commercial for Kathy Watanabe. Still waiting for the “Fly Over” promoting “Team Jed”.
                This is all so silly, and I wish I could laugh about it, but it involves our City and potentially the course of our City in a very negative way.
                Burt Field

      • Burt, you’re a good and decent guy. There were few more than I anti-49ers stadium, as you know. What’s done is done. Can’t say we didn’t tell you. The City made a deal with the devil and now it’s just damage control. It gets worse before it gets better as is the experience of every NFL City.
        Anyway, time keeps moving on. God knows why the old guard wants to keep old white people in power who are, by any objective measure, less qualified academically or measured by their service to the community.
        You can debate that. That’s fair. What is not are hit pieces where the claim should have been 2, 3 years ago. 30 days before an election? No one buys that.
        Just think it through.
        Byron

  9. Habir was at a Mariani community outreach meeting my wife and I attended a few years back. I asked what she was doing here. Habir said she was helping out Lou Mariani by taking notes. As I looked around the room I noticed a lot of other Lou’s friends from the Chamber of Commerce. Lou was doing community outreach for his project on El Camino with personal friends and friends from the Chamber of Commerce with about two people out of 20 from the neighborhood.

    Later I looked on the Chamber of Commerce website and I noticed Habir was a charter member. My wife and I did not appreciate Habir’s dishonesty and supporting Lou Mariani’s sham community outreach.

    Trying to deceive residents in a community outreach is not the type of leader Santa Clara needs.

    • Richard you do realize your soul will have to carry the burden of all these accusations to defame me. You are nice to my face so you post on a lowest end possible site. What does having been on the board of the chamber have to do with this. Where was the deception. You have been playing in the mud so long that you don’t believe when you see true people. But that’s your issue not mine. And here is the link to the site that I was taking notes on. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show people what transparency should look like.

      https://www.engagedsantaclara.com/mariani-family-project

  10. SiliconSage has never been any good for working families with their projects. They treat workers poorly. No surprise they cut corners and break the law.

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