BREAKING: Confirmed – State Watchdog Investigating Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy for Illegally Accepting Gifts from 49ers

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.

Karen Hardy Raj Chahal 49ers Free Passes

The Facts

  • 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.


  1. It’s easy for me to believe someone with the intellectual capacity of Karen Hardy or Raj Chahal can be influenced by these marketing type sales people. These two are country bumpkins comparing to the slick Willies on the 49ers staff. Let’s hope they don’t sell silicon valley power for a few beans.

    Ignorance of the law is still a crime.

  2. Had to blow the dust off this doozy. A good friend of Hardy’s wrote this. A no on J person. Wonder what Hardy has to say about what her friend wrote? Hardy who said to make sure she got elected that over her dead body she wouldn’t change the curfew! Guess what she did the day after she took this 49er free gift? VOTED
    TO change THE CURFEW!!

    My fellow Santa Clarans,

    Measure J is a highly contentious issue that is dividing our once peaceful city.
    Please take a few moments to read about the effects of Measure J on our community, both in terms of the financial effects and impacts on the quality of life.

    Campaign finance statements were filed today, and they show that the 49ers have so far spent $4.1 million since the campaign started in 2009 ($364,000 in 2009, $3.6 million in 2010 so far.). In the last 2 months, the 49ers have spent $2.6 million, and absolutely zero dollars of that have come from Santa Clarans. Here’s the SJ Merc article:

    On May 16th Dr. Roger Noll of Stanford published an article in the SF Chron that lists the costs and the risks to Santa Clara. The risk of not being able to raise the required construction money from uncertain sources (personal seat licenses and naming rights) is high, and the risk of operational losses is also high. Dr. Roger Noll notes that because Santa Clara is small, our per capita cost will be high for the stadium. Other NFL host cities that carry stadium debt and operational losses are much larger population centers. This article is well worth reading:

    Please ask yourself:
    If this is such a good deal for Santa Clara, why do the 49ers have to spend so much to convince us?
    If this is such a good deal, then why aren’t any of the other cities in the region contributing to the cost of the stadium? The region wants the ‘regional benefits’ but only little Santa Clara will be paying for the stadium.

    Our city manager says we are in the midst of the worst budget crisis in 30 years (youtube video from a city council meeting). The budget deficit for this year is $15 million, and the projected deficit for next year is $20 million. The schools are hurting but the city is hurting just as much (in fact the city’s deficit is much larger than the school district’s deficit). The stadium will divert $67 million away from our city’s General Fund over the same time period when double digit budget deficits are projected for many years to come.

    Council members Jamie McLeod and Will Kennedy have written about why the stadium is not a good deal for Santa Clara in the SJ Mercury, the SC Weekly, and in an open letter to Santa Clarans on the Top 10 Reasons to Vote No on Measure J.

    In addition, CM McLeod and Kennedy have both made short youtube video clips that explain the problems with Measure J, including the truth about money for the schools, jobs, a negative return on investment, the $67 million loss to our General Fund, the sweetheart rent deal for the training facility (which Mayor Mahan falsely stated at a May 16th debate is because the 49ers spent hundreds of millions on roads etc. near the training facility), we don’t get a vote on whether or not the Raiders can come, the 49ers will only pay ‘reasonable’ operating costs, and tax dollars will be spent on the stadium. There are many more informational videos by Council members McLeod and Kennedy on the SCvoter channel on youtube:

    Santa Clara’s share of the construction costs is $444 million. 49ers campaign started out showing a pie chart of the correct construction costs (which Jed York showed in an interview), but quickly modified the pie chart to hide the biggest cost to Santa Clara and the biggest risk-the Stadium Authority (video). The 49ers have controlled the ballot language for Measure J so that the costs aren’t disclosed. One of our council members helped the 49ers hijack the language for the ballot question. In addition, we were promised two votes in the Term Sheet, and the 49ers went to Sacramento to have special legislation (SB43) written just for them to take away our second vote, which was supposed to be on whether or not they can override our city charter requirement for competitive bidding. It turns out that while they signed the Term Sheet promising us 2 votes, they had already planned to go to Sacramento to take away our second vote (video from council meeting).

    A resident who lives near the stadium site spoke eloquently before the city council about the negative effects on the quality of life for northside residents on game days. His presentation is on youtube. People who live near the stadium are incredibly worried, and their concerns are discussed on the Santa Clara Plays Fair website (article on EIR issues).

    Tonight, there was a second Town Hall meeting near the stadium that focused on the environmental impacts of the stadium. Both at tonight’s Town Hall meeting, and at last week’s Town Hall meeting, no one from the Yes on J campaign would show up to speak, and not one of our city council members who are in favor of the stadium would show up to speak. Only members of the No on J campaign and the 2 council members opposed to the stadium showed up. If Measure J was such a good deal, then why won’t the Yes on J council members and Santa Clarans for Economic Progress members show up to talk about why they’re voting for the stadium?

    The 49ers are spending millions to get hundreds of millions from Santa Clara. Why? Forbes says the 49ers are ‘desperate’ for a new stadium. The
    San Jose Mercury News estimates the 49ers team value will increase by $200 million with a new stadium. They’ll get all of the NFL revenue
    from a new stadium (Santa Clara only gets 35 cents per ticket), all of the TV/Radio revenue, and 1/2 of the non-NFL event profit. Santa
    Clara will get a negative return on investment, and all of the risk that comes from owning a stadium

    For more information, please visit the Santa Clara Plays Fair website. We are a not for profit organization of volunteers who believe that
    public funds should be for public needs.

    Chris Koltermann

  3. Don’t forget – gifts to public officials that must be reported also includes meals, drinks, and parking passes (over $50). Remember San Jose Councilman Forrest Williams resigned for precisely the same violations – accepted tix to San Jose ballet and accepted a case of wine from Martin Yan.

    Apparently San Jose has a higher ethical bar than Santa Clara?

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