49ers CEO Jed York Forced to Register as Lobbyist in Santa Clara

By Robert Haugh

49ers CEO Jed York was recently forced to register as a lobbyist in Santa Clara.

In February, Santa Clara News reported that York was spending money to influence Santa Clara City Council decisions.  

But he wasn’t doing it under his own name. York is hiding behind a shadowy organization called “Santa Clara Now.”

During a City Council meeting, the 49er Five mentioned emails they were getting from Santa Clara Now to support the 49ers’ FIFA World Cup bid.

City Clerk Hosam Haggag reported that York was the creator of the organization. Since he was spending more than $5,000 to influence the City Council, he was required to register as a lobbyist.

York has never registered as a lobbyist in Santa Clara.

After being sent a warning letter by City staff, York was forced to register.

At the February City Council meeting, Haggag also said that York started spending money on Facebook ads on January 13. 

But that was weeks before the public knew the FIFA issue was coming to the City Council. Hmmm.

The 49er Five meet with the team regularly to discuss Council agenda items.  

They did not publicly disclose at the February Council meeting whether they discussed Santa Clara Now with York or other team officials.

Santa Clara Now looks like the latest York attempt to influence Santa Clara politics.  

In 2016, York was reportedly behind the scandalous dark money group BluPac.

BluPac tried to take over the Santa Clara City Council that year but failed. They were also fined by both the City and the FPPC. 

In 2020, York succeeded in taking over the City Council by spending $3 million to elect Anthony Becker, Suds Jain and Kevin Park.

The three had never won a Santa Clara election before. They were a combined 0-6.

Since taking office, Becker, Jain and Park have repaid York. 

They’ve joined Councilmembers Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal to vote for every 49ers request since they’ve been in office. The total runs into multiple millions of dollars, and counting.

This is a developing story.

49ers CEO Jed York

3 comments

  1. Like all business decision-making, Jed York and the 49ers have made calculated bets which they fully expect to produce yields that will dwarf their initial “investments.” You can take that to the bank.

    Their $3 million investment in the 2020 Santa Clara council elections (and their smaller investments in the 2016 city elections) yielded a favorable majority that has already resulted in the firing of Santa Clara’s city attorney (Mr. Doyle) and city manager (Ms. Santana), both bulwarks in the fights to defend the city against 49er violations of their contracts with the Stadium Authority. Their replacements will no doubt be more amenable to the 49ers which translates into enhanced revenues or lower expenses for York and company (https://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/santa-clara-city-council-fires-city-attorney-brian-doyle-for-no-cause/#comment-1706387; https://sanjosespotlight.com/santa-clara-sees-demographic-shift-population-growth-census-over-last-decade/#comment-90626).

    York’s returns on investment are already starting to pile up. The court settlement reported in the linked article suggests the 49ers will save about $400,000 relative to what they would have had to pay under the previous city council membership (https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Daily/Issues/2022/02/15/Facilities/49ers-parking.aspx). That’s more than one-eighth of what they “invested” in the 2020 council elections and they’re barely 17 months into the new council’s term.

    There is outstanding litigation–all of it initiated by the 49ers against the Stadium Authority, none of it initiated by the city. The litigation involves claims by the 49ers that could cost the Stadium Authority and the county taxpayers hundreds millions in lost revenues and property taxes and undermine the legal prerogatives of the Stadium Authority, a public agency that serves the city (https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/santa-clara-stadium-authority-litigation).

    The $3 million York invested in the 2020 council campaigns will pay in spades. Santa Clara News Online should keep a running account, with referenced documentation, of: a) public funds expended in excess of original contractual obligations between Stadium Authority and the 49ers; b) operating or other costs related to Stadium Operations in excess of original contractual operations. This could be done for the period starting with the original Stadium Authority-49er agreement in 2014.

  2. Glad he was called on the lobbyist violation. But Santa Clara Now has a fakebook page where it claims to be a non-profit organization. It doesn’t say 501.c3 just that is is a non-profit. Certainly a lobbyist doesn’t want to be a non-profit but maybe I am making too much of this connection.

    • Nah! You’re always right on the money! Literally and figuratively.

Leave a Reply