By Robert Haugh
Santa Clara News Online (SCNO) has learned from reliable sources that the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is investigating Councilmembers Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy for illegally accepting gifts from the 49ers and not reporting it.
The sources requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Both Chahal and Hardy are up for re-election this November.
Multiple political experts believe that this is a devastating charge to deal with during the campaign.
“Ain’t no way, no how, they can survive an FPPC finding against them,” said one consultant who is unaffiliated in Santa Clara. “If it looks like a bribe, and smells like a bribe, it’s a freaking bribe.”
Political experts believe the numerous times that Chahal and Hardy have voted to give in to the 49ers’ request will be a big turnoff for voters.
Chahal and Hardy were contacted yesterday morning for comments at their City Hall and personal emails. But they did not respond by yesterday evening, over eight hours later.
Two weeks ago, SCNO broke the story about a possible investigation.
Chahal and Hardy complained they were not given enough time to respond.
They posted a comment that personally attacked this reporter with false allegations of child abuse.
The potential violation was first made by former City Attorney Brian Doyle at the June 21 City Council meeting during public comment.
He gave the Council a detailed six-page report. Doyle wrote:
“The public records and statements by Councilmembers Chahal and Hardy indicate the following serious violations:
- Acceptance of gifts in the form of NFL game passes in excess of the legal limit of $520
- Failure to report the acceptance of gifts on their annual statements of economic interest (Form 700)
- Acceptance of gifts from lobbyists in violation of the City of Santa Clara Lobbyist Ordinance
- Violation of Santa Clara City Council Policy 050”
Chahal and Hardy confirmed in their online comments that they have sought the advice and help of legal counsel. It looks like they take the charge seriously or they think they did something wrong.
- Hardy and Chahal attended the 49ers’ Monday Night Football game against the Rams on November 15, 2021.
- They both admit that they got into the game and did not pay.
- They likely violated a state law that requires them to declare a gift from the 49ers.
- They violated a Santa Clara law that prohibits lobbyists, like the 49ers execs, from giving any gifts of any value to any Councilmember.
- They violated Santa Clara’s City Council gift policy.
- Hardy and Chahal said they were there to officially view game operations.
- But there was no City Council or Stadium Authority action authorizing them to do that.
- The police unit in charge of stadium security was never informed of Chahal and Hardy’s visit. If it was an official visit, they would have been notified.