By Robert Haugh
Santa Clara City Councilwoman Karen Hardy received a free game pass from the 49ers for a Monday Night Football game on November 15, 2021.
Hardy did not declare it which is a violation of state law. And City law prohibits her from receiving any gifts from the 49ers under the City’s lobbyist ordinance.
The pass was discovered as part of a public records act request.
However, information on the pass was heavily redacted.
According to sources familiar with 49ers game passes, there’s no personal information on passes so there’s no reason to redact the information.
The hidden information on the pass would have indicated what type of access Hardy had at the game, including VIP field access. It may have also included the value of the pass.
With the game pass, Hardy would have received a parking pass, too. Both passes would have been expensive since it was a popular Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Councilmember Raj Chahal also attended the game with Hardy. He has not produced a game pass or parking pass.
At the last week’s City Council meeting, the pro-49er Council majority rejected a request to publicly discuss how Hardy and Chahal may have violated the lobbyist ordinance.
They also rejected a request for District Attorney Jeff Rosen to investigate since interim City Attorney Steve Ngo and the Lozano Smith law firm have been advising Hardy and Chahal and have a conflict of interest.
Ngo would have been involved with the redaction of Hardy’s pass.
According to City information, the Santa Clara police department was unaware of Hardy and Chahal’s attendance at the November 15 game. It was not an officially authorized visit by the Stadium Authority.
The next night, at the Council meeting, Hardy and Chahal voted with their pro-49er Council colleagues to change the weekday stadium curfew.
The curfew was part of the development agreement to protect Northside neighborhoods during the work week. It was in place when the stadium opened in 2014. The team has been lobbying to change it.
Hardy publicly claimed that she received no “ticket” to the game during a June 21, 2022 meeting. She said she called the California Fair Political Practices Commission staff.
Hardy 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.
This is a developing story and there’s currently an active FPPC investigation.