The mud is flying both ways between Jed York’s critics and allies at Santa Clara City Hall, as York’s supporters just lodged a series of ethics complaints at Mayor Lisa Gillmor, whom Jed spent $2.5 million unsuccessfully trying to defeat.
Those of you who watched your San Francisco 49ers’ lopsided 30-12 blowout of the NY Giants Thursday night may have noticed an amusing dig announcer Al Michaels took at the home of Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara. “You ever notice, we come here, and all of our (aerial shots) are from 44 miles away?” Michaels joked as the camera panned to the Bay Bridge. "We’d like to bring you aerials from nearby here, but what are we supposed to do? The salt evaporator flats? San Jose Airport?"
The inference seems to be that Santa Clara is not a very interesting place to look at. But things are very interesting in the 49ers ownership’s ongoing political battles in Santa Clara, as the San Jose Spotlight reports that three pro-49ers city councilmembers are alleging that Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor is illegally coordinating with a dark money political group. They've sent ethics comains to the city, the California Fair Political Practices Commission, and the IRS.
Some background here: Jed York spent $2.5 million trying to defeat Gillmor in the 2022 election, and she won anyway, defeating York’s preferred candidate, Councilmember Anthony Becker. Becker, it so happens, is facing perjury charges for allegedly lying under oath about leaking a grand jury report that was critical of the 49ers. And the three pro-49ers councilmembers are making little secret of these new charges against Gillmor being payback.
“It just seems to me the other side is constantly accusing us of violating ethics, and we are now starting to go on the counteroffensive,” Councilmember Suds Jain told the Spotlight. “There are active campaigns for people calling for us to be recalled and to resign, and we’re just fighting back.”
Their charges relate to Stand Up for Santa Clara, admittedly a highly partisan organization that describes itself as a nonprofit, and absolutely favors Gillmor (and blasts her enemies) in their social media posts. The councilmembers allege that Stand Up for Santa Clara operates out a building Gillmor owns, fails to file financial disclosures, and is not registered as the nonprofit it claims to be.
These are just charges, and it’s normal political hardball to file ethics charges against your opponents and hope for the best. Such charges are often thrown out or dismissed, sometimes because they had no merit in the first place, and sometimes because clever campaigns are able to exploit legal loopholes that violate the spirit of laws, but don't technically break those laws.
And both sides have thrown mud in this case, as Gillmor’s supporters at the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association promoted the above (admittedly hilarious) ad defaming Jed York in the previous mayoral election that Gillmor won. A look at Gillmor’s Twitter account shows that in recent months, Gillmor has posted nothing but nice things about the superstar pop artists playing at Levi’s Stadium, and retweets of scathing political allegations against Jed York-friendly politicians.
But Gillmor has otherwise pretty much kept her hands clean and stayed above the fray in these wars of political ads and attacks. There’s some possibility her hands aren’t clean if these allegations prove true, though an equal possibility these charges will backfire and make her opponents look like they’re in Jed York’s pocket.
Either way, this is shaping up to be a far more intriguing battle than a lopsided 30-12 blowout San Francisco 49ers win at Levi’s Stadium.
Image: Side view of Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers football team, viewed through trees across a parking lot, in the Silicon Valley, Santa Clara, California, August 17, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)