By Robert Haugh
Councilman Suds Jain cannot vote on downtown Santa Clara development issues because he has a conflict of interest.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) made it official this week in a May 10th letter to the City.
Here’s the summary from the FPPC letter:
Question: Does the (Political Reform) Act prohibit Councilmember Jain from participating in discussions and decisions of the City Council related to the proposed Precise Plan for the Downtown focus area, given that his spouse’s nonprofit university employer owns real property within the focus area?
Conclusion: Yes. It is reasonably foreseeable that City Council decisions related to the proposed Precise Plan will have a material effect on Councilmember Jain(‘s) financial interest in his spouse’s employer.
We’ve been saying Jain has a conflict of interest for awhile.
Last September, we wrote the story about how Lori Jain, Sud’s wife, works at Santa Clara University. The school is near some potential downtown developments and he could financially benefit from it.
Jain himself knew of this conflict as early as 2016. He was a Planning Commissioner and had to recuse himself from the University’s master plan because of his wife’s employment.
But Jain misled voters during his campaign numerous times about his ability to vote on downtown issues.
We called Jain out on his false claims in a second story a few weeks before the election.
In an email exchange yesterday, Jain insisted he has not misled voters or the public.
Now that Jain’s conflict is official, some District 5 leaders are not pleased.
One district leader said Jain has “a big issue with honesty” and was tired of not having a Councilmember who can vote on important downtown issues.
Another community leader said it doesn’t really matter because the “community is going to provide the vision for downtown and Jain is irrelevant.”
The FPPC also suggested that they were misled by Jain.
In the May 10th letter to the City, the FPPC withdrew their earlier advice that was based on the evidence Jain gave them. Here’s what they wrote:
Further, the Jain Advice Letter, No. A-20-126, is RESCINDED, as the material facts on which the letter’s conclusion is based are no longer accurate.