By Robert Haugh
Councilmembers Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal are being investigated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for accepting gifts from 49ers.
Former City Attorney Brian Doyle first raised the issue at the June 21, 2022, City Council meeting.
At that meeting, the 49er Five voted not to discuss the issue and were accused of sweeping it under the carpet.
But the issue won’t go away. Santa Clara News Online broke and confirmed the story that the FPPC started an official investigation.
According to numerous sources, Hardy has told district residents that she got approval from the FPPC, despite the investigation.
Hardy first mentioned calling the FPPC at the June 21 meeting. She submitted a memo to the City Council that stated the following details:
On June 16, 2022 at 9:41 am Karen Hardy called the FPPC help number (866-275-3772) and explained (sic) the FPPC representative regarding our visit to the Levi’s stadium in the capacity of Stadium Authority Board Members for an operational tour and the concern that has been raised. The gentleman on the phone asked one question – Did you or the other council member accept a ticket for the event? To which Karen’s reply was, “No”. We (Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal) were with an escort the entire time of our stadium operations tour, we did not have tickets to the event. The FPPC representative said you are both fine and did not believe there was any violation.
(Editor’s Note: Yes, she referred to herself in the third person in her own memo.)
But Hardy cannot recall the name of the person she spoke to at the FPPC.
“Sorry I do not have the name but the call occurred at the time I gave,” Hardy wrote in an email yesterday. “The FPPC logs those you can ask them.”
The FPPC would not confirm what Hardy claims.
“I/we can’t confirm and we can’t comment on anything related to any open investigation,” wrote Jay Wierenga, FPPC Communications Director.
According to an attorney familiar with FPPC matters, Hardy’s call is suspicious but may not matter. The attorney asked for anonymity to discuss the case.
“She got a free pass to go to a game in November, then asked the FPPC if it was okay seven months later. That’s really bright,” said the attorney.
According to the attorney, Doyle laid out a strong four-point case against Hardy and Chahal.
- 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
The FPPC is investigating the first two of these charges.
The City is responsible for investigating the violation of its own laws. But there’s been no announcement of any local investigation.
This is a developing story.