Campaign Records Provide a Glimpse of Silicon Valley’s Political Landscape

Santa Clara County is one of just 17 in California that offer campaign finance records in easily analyzed online forms. Here’s what they show.

Former Staffer of SJ Councilman Manh Nguyen Accuses Office of Breaking Law, Dirty Campaigning

One of San Jose Councilman Manh Nguyen’s ex-staffers made some bold allegations last week, accusing the District 4 rep of pulling a Mike Honda.

Ernie Konnyu Has Meltdown in Facebook Fight with Jim Cunneen

Ernie Konnyu has been on a terrifying roll when it comes to making the people he likes look bad. On Friday, Konnyu attacked the Chamber PAC and Jim Cunneen for supporting State Assembly candidate Evan Low—mainly because Low is gay and Konnyu believes gay blood kills people.

Chavez Campaign Coordinators Spend Big, Disconnect Phone Numbers

With less than three weeks remaining in the county supervisor runoff between Teresa Alvarado and Cindy Chavez, supporters on both sides have now volleyed accusations of illegal assistance from outside groups. A little digging shows lots of money being spent by groups coordinating with the Chavez campaign, and very little attention being paid to update their contact information.

Focus of Alvarado, Chavez Supervisor Race Turns to Campaign Coordination

The latest turn in the race to replace disgraced former county Supervisor George Shirakawa, Jr., the Santa Clara County Democratic Party has filed a complaint against candidate Teresa Alvarado, alleging that she illegally coordinated with a political action committee. Alvarado and fellow candidate Cindy Chavez, who has also been accused of illegal campaign coordination and is supported by the county Democratic Party, will face off in a July 30 special election. With only three weeks left in the race, an important debate is being waged on what constitutes unfair campaign assistance.

Who Wasted the Most Campaign Money in 2012? Well, a Lot of People

The deadline for semi-annual campaign disclosure forms covering the last half of 2012 came due last week. The documents provide a clearer picture of how winning and losing candidates raised money and how they spent it—or misspent it—in the final weeks of the campaign. We also tracked a number of political action committees (PACs). The most interesting findings: How much money was wasted in trying to defeat Councilmember Rose Herrera, a potential quid pro quo between the ChamberPAC and a person quoted in its ballot statement against minimum wage, and hangover debt for losing candidates Jimmy Nguyen and Robert Braunstein.

Call It a Wash

Election season brings about some odd transfers of money when it comes to political contributions, and maybe no stranger transaction took place last year than the $4,000 the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (ChamberPAC) returned to the Santa Clara Valley Water District in August. According to standards set by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, a public entity is forbidden from contributing to any PAC, while the IRS says schools and charities risk losing their tax exemptions if they give money to PACs that support political candidates—which the ChamberPAC certainly does.

The Business Candidate?

Minh Duong, the pro-business, Chamber of Commerce–endorsed City Council candidate, has made his business experience the central theme of his campaign to oust District 7 Councilmember Madison Nguyen. He believes his knowledge of budgets and finance can help the economically-strapped city better manage its money.

Duong’s own business acumen, however, may not rise to the level his talking points suggest. The 31-year-old furniture store owner has defaulted on his home mortgage, incurred multiple property tax delinquencies, neglected to pay his garbage bills and been threatened with eviction on his business and foreclosure on his house. Last month, he was kicked off the San José Small Business Development Commission.