By Burt Field
Thanks to California’s Fourth District Appellate Court, a frivolous lawsuit against Mayor Lisa Gillmor was thrown out last month.
The lawsuit was initially filed in October 2018, just days before Gillmor’s re-election in November. That timing was suspicious.
The lawsuit was filed by Brian Exline, a Santa Clara University Law School student at the time. That’s suspicious, too.
No one really believes Exline paid a major San Jose law firm McManis Faulkner to handle the lawsuit. And no one believes Exline paid for the appeal. The total legal bill could be $200,000 or more.
So who paid Exline’s legal bills?
A lot of Santa Clarans think it was the 49ers. After all, the team has a history of spending big money to meddle in our local politics.
Last year, Jed York spent $3 million dollars to get Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, and Kevin Park elected to the City Council. These three people have appeared on the Santa Clara ballot numerous times. None of them ever won an election. The team clearly needs to have friendly votes at City Hall and they’re willing to pay for them.
In 2018, the 49ers spent over $700,000 to defeat Measure C, an attempt by Santa Clarans to draw our own City Council district lines. The team clearly wants to influence how our districts are shaped.
In 2016, they were exposed for being behind BluPAC, the dark money organization that spent approximately $50,000 to support pro-49er candidates and opposed others.
The pattern is pretty clear. Jed York is willing to write big checks so that the 49ers control the political leadership of Santa Clara.
Fortunately for us, Mayor Gillmor and others like our City Attorney Brian Doyle have stood up effectively against the team. And that’s why the 49ers want them gone.
We don’t know for sure if Jed York gave Exline the money for his lawsuit against Gillmor. That’s because Exline hasn’t said who funded the case. In fact, Exline hasn’t made a public statement at all about the case. That’s really suspicious. Maybe Exline was just being used.
But now Exline is a deputy district attorney in Fresno County. He’s a government employee with decision-making power.
The public has a right to know who is giving him money to cover his legal bills which are now even bigger. In addition to paying McManis Faulkner, Exline is responsible for paying Gillmor’s legal bills because he lost the appeal on a frivolous lawsuit.
If it wasn’t the 49ers, it was someone else. And Exline owes them a lot and therefore has a hidden conflict of interest.
The taxpayers of Fresno County and the residents of Santa Clara have a right to know who has financial influence over Exline.
If he won’t come clean about it, may his boss, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, should force him to do so. Or there will forever be a dark cloud hovering over Exline’s decisions as a public servant because someone paid off a large legal bill for him.