Santa Clara City Councilmember Karen Hardy Doesn’t Know Who Gave Her Advice That She Could Accept Free Tickets from the 49ers

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.

8 comments

  1. Yes, she does make it sound like an assignment from the stadium authority to tour the facility, doesn’t she.
    “…our visit to the Levi’s stadium in the capacity of Stadium Authority Board Members for an operational tour..”
    The real question is, if she made the call, how close is this to the actual conversation? This is deceptive and the actual, if it happened, was probably worse. Just guessing here.

  2. Hey, if the Niners are good this year, I could use some tix too!!! Do I need to be a City council member to get free tickets???

    • And they voted for Anthony Becker’s motion at the council meeting the next day to change the weekday curfew to 11 PM and allow fireworks until 11 PM. After being lobbied at the stadium the night before. The alarm bells are screaming! The optics are blinding!

  3. Karen’s extreme ignorance is no excuse for her unlawful actions. If you’re not intelligent enough to hold office, then step aside.

    Jed will forgive you…

  4. Don’t they have HR training for these people? Is there not a playbook for city council members to refer to when they’re newbies? No process to initiate new members with specific rules to PREVENT this from happening in the first place? I’m beginning to wonder what all of our taxes are paying for if there are no checks and balances! Oh and Hardy should be recalled. This is NOT the type of person we want representing us.

    • There is training. As a former commissioner, all council and commissioners are REQUIRED to take AB1234 course dealing with ethics and actually focuses on issues like this. There is no excuse for Karen Hardy. No one needed to tell her. As long as she wasn’t falling asleep during the ethics training like she does in council meetings – she should have known what she was doing was wrong!

      As a D3 resident, Hardy doesn’t have my vote!

  5. Looks like Karen Hardy tried to trick the person she called at the FPPC. She never fully disclosed that she got a pass and the visit was NOT authorized by the City or the Stadium Authority as you reported in other stories. This is bad.

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