Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy Refuse to Recuse Themselves from 49ers Settlement Vote Despite Their FPPC Gift Investigation

By Robert Haugh

Before the Santa Clara City Council went into a closed session, almost 20 people showed up or sent in comments. That’s an unusually high number since it was an early meeting with a 3 p.m. start.

But the issue was important – a possible settlement of lawsuits the 49ers have filed against the City. All the commenters (except for one fake “John Galt”) opposed the settlement offer.

A few people raised questions about Councilmembers Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy participating since they have potentially violated state and city laws by accepting gifts from the 49ers.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is investigating them.

“Council members Chahal and Hardy are being investigated by the FPPC for accepting gifts from the 49ers,” wrote Burt Field.

“Council members Chahal and Hardy have violated the City Council Gift policy, number 050. That policy requires them to recuse themselves on the basis of an appearance of a conflict. The policy also requires them to follow FPPC guidelines and that is now the subject of an investigation that has not been resolved.”

“We have two sitting City Councilmembers that are under investigation for receiving gifts from the 49ers,” said Christian Pellecchia. “This is incredibly bad optics for our City and the City Council. And I ask that at least today, these two City Councilmembers recuse themselves from voting on this issue.”

Editor’s Note: Pellecchia is a City Council candidate running against Hardy.

“This issue to settle any of the 49er lawsuits is why we need change,” wrote Debbie Tryforos. “Members of the city council have already demonstrated whose interest they support by settling a (49er) lawsuit involving the golf course and it did not benefit the city or its residents.”

Editor’s Note: Tryforos is working for City Council candidate Larry McColloch who’s running against Chahal.

Councilmember Kathy Watanabe made a motion to table the issue.

“Based on the comments and concerns, including the appearance of impropriety, expressed here this afternoon, I am making a motion that any 49ers settlement discussions be continued until these legal and ethical issues are satisfactorily resolved, said Watanabe.

But that motion failed 2-5. Watanabe and Mayor Lisa Gillmor voted yes. The 49er Five voted no and went into closed session.

After the closed session, acting City Attorney Steve Ngo said there was no reportable action. That means there was no settlement but the discussions about a settlement could be ongoing.

This is a developing story.

Editor’s Note: The 49er Five are Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park.

Jed York spent $3 million in November 2020 to elect Becker, Jain, and Park. They were previously 0-6 in Santa Clara elections. Chahal and Hardy have received gifts from the team recently without reporting them.

The 49er Five meet with the team on an almost weekly basis and have voted to help the team win millions of dollars in concessions from the City since December 2020.


  1. $150k for a Neighborhood Stadium Relations Committee! I’m guessing the 49er 5 want to control this committee and head it up? NO WAY! They will hide any and all issues that we are having. They can’t be trusted.

  2. Question: If Hardy and Chahal are found to be in violation by the FPPC, would they then be required to recuse themselves from voting on 49er issues?

    • John Galt, some funny bunny was impersonating you last night during the council meeting. If I was a betting person, I’d say it was Abel Cárdena – Becker’s boyfriend. Found his submitted comment below. I know you wouldn’t say this about Lisa.

      John Galt at August 16, 2022 at 2:05pm PDT Support
      It seems Mayor Gillmor and Watanabe are fine with lying on applications. Sounds familiar, like how Gillmor’s property management company violated state labor laws by failing to pay prevailing wages to contractors at an affordable housing site for teachers. Of course they both support likeminded people and encourage them to apply. Yes he’s qualified – qualified at where he originally wrote on his application. Gillmor always bends and changes the rules at her whim for those she wants by her side.

  3. Thank you Robert for the continued reporting on this. Relieved to hear “no reportable action” on a settlement. I missed the fact that the meeting started early at 3PM, but did attend the later session – interesting to watch the dynamics in person on the topics of removing Dr. Patrick from the Planning Commission and the $150k for a Neighborhood Stadium Relations Committee.

    This was the 1st meeting I attended and I don’t understand why there is not more public comment on important resident issues (a lot of money is being decided on) like the settlement offer. Why is there no transparency on timelines and when we will receive updates? I as a resident need to inform myself more about the proceedings and if what is happening is business as usual or as per my impression some council members taking every opportunity to push their agenda without public comment or input.

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