The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office seized documents in a Thanksgiving eve raid that implicate Xavier Campos’ campaign in funding the red-baiting political mailers that helped him win a seat on the San Jose City Council. The search warrant at George Shirakawa Jr.’s residence turned up evidence pointing to a secret printing operation and purchases of card stock, ink jet cartridges and stamps in the days leading up to the illegal political hit.
Now, records obtained this week by Metro/San Jose Inside suggest that the District 5 councilmember engaged in a highly unconventional campaign finance practice—one used by the incarcerated former county supervisor—that would have allowed him to establish phony campaign bank accounts that could have gone undetected by agencies monitoring election spending.
Santa Clara County Recorder’s databases show that Campos and Shirakawa, who is currently serving a year-long jail sentence for pilfering campaign funds, filed fictitious business name statements under the identical names as their political campaigns. The documents are traditionally used by business entities to establish bank accounts—not by political committees, which must report their receipts and expenditures to different agencies.
Campos submitted the business filings for two of his campaigns—the 2004 “Xavier Campos for School Board” committee and 2010 “Xavier Campos for City Council” campaign. Campos is currently in the third year of a four-year term on the San Jose council, and is running for re-election.
According to county records, Campos created a fictitious business name for his council run on Oct. 7, 2009—a full two weeks before he took formal steps to run for office. In his 2004 school board “business” filing, he and Shirakawa were listed as owners of the company along with Rosa Campos, mother to the councilman and State Assemblywoman Nora Campos. That filing expired in 2009, while the fictitious business filing for his council campaign remains active.
Officials with the District Attorney’s office and the County Registrar of Voters were surprised when contacted about the unusual procedure, in part because creating a fictitious business with the same title as a campaign committee is an unnecessary step—unless an individual wanted to open a bank account under that name. Under this logic, it would then be possible to deposit campaign checks into separate, secret bank accounts with identical titles.
“There’s no legitimate political reason to do that,” an experienced political consultant told Metro. “It is somewhere between suspicious and corrupt.”
Shirakawa made similar fictitious business filings with the Recorder’s office—by himself—for other campaigns: Citizens for More Schools in FMSA (2001); George Shirakawa for School Board (2002); and George Shirakawa for Supervisor (2008). A final fictitious business filing was made for Shirakawa’s last campaign, George Shirakawa for Supervisor 2012, but the owner listed for this still-active filing is Linda Delgado, the mother of one of Shirakawa’s children and a treasurer for his and Campos’ most recent political campaigns.
The recent search of Shirakawa’s home, conducted by the DA’s office, appears to connect some dots in this home-cooked political conspiracy.
On Nov. 27, an investigator for the DA seized laptops, printers, receipts, campaign documents and flyers from Shirakawa’s home, located at 2609 Apollo Dr. in San Jose. The search warrant was issued in connection with Shirakawa’s upcoming trial on a false personation charge. Prosecutors say his DNA was linked to fraudulent mailers that portrayed Campos’ 2010 council opponent, Magdalena Carrasco, as a communist to East San Jose’s Vietnamese voters. Carrasco was forced to defend herself against the mailers, and Campos won by just 20 votes. He later defeated Carrasco in a close runoff election.
The DA was granted a search warrant after a review of Campos’ 2010 campaign disclosure forms showed a $93.93 purchase from a company called KS Cartridges, based at Shirakawa’s home address. The business’ legal owner, Kenley Shirakawa, is George’s younger brother. The receipt shows that HP ink cartridges—matching those the DA believes were used in producing the fraudulent mailers—were purchased by Delgado, who, like Campos, invoked the Fifth Amendment to deflect questions during an October grand jury hearing looking into the matter.
The receipt notes that the purchase for the ink cartridges was made April 28, 2010, a little more than two weeks before the fraudulent mailers were postmarked, according to the DA’s affidavit. Other items seized from Shirakawa’s home match the paper stock, stamps and type of equipment that would have been needed to produce the flyers.
“We found an Office Depot receipt dated May 8, 2010—only six days prior to the postmark on the flyers—for the purchase of two half reams of card stock paper similar to that used for the flyers,” DA investigator Russell Chubon wrote in his report. “The same receipt showed the purchase of two rolls of 100 postage stamps. We also found US Post Office receipts dated May 3 and May 6, 2010 for seventeen rolls of 100 ‘44c US Flag’ stamps, which are the stamps used on the illegal 2010 flyers.
“Lastly, we found an April 2, 2010 OfficeMax receipt for self-adhesive mailing labels of the size used on the illegal 2010 flyers. Although none of these other receipts was associated with GEORGE SHIRAKAWA’s home address, the evidence that all of these other materials necessary to make the flyers were purchased by the Xavier Campos campaign during this period suggests that the ink cartridges were also purchased to make the flyers.”
The investigator added that there is additional evidence that Delgado carried out all of the purchases for Campos’ campaign.
“Her signature appears on that committee’s 460 forms as its treasurer,” Chubon wrote. “In most campaigns, the treasurer is the person who spends money on behalf of the committee. Moreover, a handwritten note on one of the receipts reads: ‘Linda, Please order these ink cartridges for the Xavier campaign. Gracias, Enrique.’”
It’s unclear who Enrique might be, but the DA’s office is in the process of trying to locate him.
Campos refused to talk about the fraudulent mailers with the grand jury last month, but he later gave an interview to NBC Bay Area’s Damian Trujillo and denied any involvement in the mail fraud scandal.
Campos’ office did not return multiple calls requesting comment for this story. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) continues to investigate him after Metro reported in April on delinquent campaign filings in his 2010 race, and that, as with Shirakawa, Delgado served as his treasurer. Last year, within weeks of a Metro report detailing Shirakawa’s campaign indiscretions, Campos installed himself as treasurer and forgave a $10,000 loan he gave the campaign.
In January of this year, Campos inexplicably closed his 2004 school board campaign with the county Registrar of Voters. There are no other forms on file detailing how he raised and spent money in that race.
Carrasco, who has pulled papers to face Campos in a rematch in next year’s primary, told a local newspaper that if reports on the search warrant seizures are accurate, Campos should resign from office.
“If indeed they have tied this to Xavier, he needs to resign,” she said. “He needs to step down in order to maintain any semblance of dignity for this community.”