SCC Supervisor Dave Cortese Ruffles Feathers by Lavishing Grants Outside His District

A perk of running for higher office while holding a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors includes access to a discretionary budget that can be dispensed to groups and galas to build political support. Memo to District 3’s Dave Cortese: as long as you’re not too obvious about it.

The three-term supervisor has irked some county officials by requesting a slew of community grants in recent months that appear to be politically motivated, not least because several of them benefit events and organizations outside his own district.

Perhaps it’s coincidence that some of those grants went to causes in Cupertino and Campbell—towns repped by supervisors Joe Simitian and Susan Ellenberg, respectively—and other locales that land firmly in the realm of California State Senate District 15, where Cortese’s running to succeed Jim Beall.

County insiders who spoke to Fly questioned why Cortese was the one to request $5,000 for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Ellenberg’s District 4, where he also referred $1,200 for the Rose, White and Blue Parade and $1,500 for the Hamann Park Neighborhood Association’s National Night Out. Or why he took it upon himself to chip in $1,350 for KMVT 15 Silicon Valley Community Media in Simitian’s District 5 to film an eighth-grade football game.

In an email through his spokeswoman, Cortese batted away the criticism, saying the grants funded things that benefit more than just one district. “The parade draws thousands of people from all over the county,” he wrote via email Tuesday evening. “My office has been a sponsor since inception of the parade.”

And that grant to the Hamann Park neighborhood? Cortese said that owes to the group directly soliciting his office for a sponsorship. “We offered microphone, chairs, etc., after their request,” he said. “They asked for a county donation as well.”

As a similarly labor-aligned political ally, Supervisor Cindy Chavez might be more forgiving of Cortese’s grant-giving in her own D5, where Lowell Middle School got $1,000 from him for a beautification event led by Assemblyman Ash Kalra’s AD27 team.

It’s hard to imagine Ellenberg and Simitian being terribly thrilled about Cortese’s foray into their turf without at least getting them to co-sponsor grants that directly benefit organizations in those districts.

That said, Ellenberg has consistently joined the board majority in authorizing even D4-related grants from Cortese. And her assent helped Cortese rationalize his out-of-district gifts by saying that the board “unanimously” approved them.

“Unanimously” is a bit of an overstatement.

It should be noted, and it seems telling, that Simitian abstained from voting on six Cortese-requested sponsorships at a single meeting in early June.

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Dave Cortese is as dull and corrupt as they come. Let’s not feed the swamp and send him to Sacramento.

  2. So no Cortese money to South County from Dollar Dave because they can’t vote for him?

    He is rich enough, but Dollar Dave wants buy the election.

    Dollar Dave, the Trump of the County

    Dollar Dave

    • > the Trump of the County

      Is this your idea of an “applause line’?

      Are we all supposed to hoot and clap because you said something really brainy?

      Trump will be re-elected on 2020. You’re giving Dave Cortese WAY WAY to much credit.

  3. I’m surprised that The Fly didn’t address the countless events outside of Dollar Dave’s district where his booths are present, where his county staffers are present, where Supervisor Cortese bags are being distributed to out of district residents, where illegal electioneering is clearly taking place. There’s much more to his shameless behavior than him merely doling out taxpayer funds to electorally preferential causes.

  4. All the people named above are part of the county’s corruption supporting organization that support their campaign. When you see one, you will see the others. This county needs an audit from the state!

    • > All the people named above are part of the county’s corruption supporting organization that support their campaign.


      Have you ever heard that “power corrupts”?

      Do you agree?

      Have you ever heard that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

      Do you agree?

      What institutions in California would you say have “absolute power”?

  5. Bubble, when people live by man made doctrines, then power corrupts. Jesus is the best example of leadership. This is what men call the servant leadership. The one on top has the most responsibility and so work. He is also the one that cares for the group. He is a role model of behavior and decency not a snobby ruler that forces his ways. Most politicians are these snobby rulers including your beloved [email protected] #Trump! #KamalaHarris2020

    • > Jesus is the best example of leadership.

      > Most politicians are these snobby rulers including your beloved [email protected] #Trump!


      When did Jesus ever say He hated Trump?

      When did you first realize that you hated Trump?

      Was it when he beat Hillary?

      Is it Trump that you hate, or just anybody who would deny Hillary her feminist entitlement?

      > #KamalaHarris2020

      Oh. And bad news for Kamala. The white working class is NOT going to vote for her.

      And I’m also beginning to suspect that that are more than a few blacks and Hispanics who kind of like the idea of “white skin privilege” for themselves and are feeling “whiter” about themselves every day of the Trump era. (CNN and the New York Times don’t talk about this, so you probably wouldn’t know anything about it.)

      Do you really think there are enough suburban white women, “women of color”, LGBTQxyx, and migrants to drag Kamala over the line?

      • Felix,
        Dem’s seem to like the old stupid white guy’s and the fake Indian, more than the fake black woman, Kamala and the fake Mexican, Beto . All reported by the Fake News that told us that the guy with fake orange hair was going to loose to the fake Jewish woman from New York, Hillary, that paid for the fake Russian collusion report.

        You wouldn’t be trying to fake us out again would you?

        • I only like Kamala. The others well, OK but Bernie, Elizabeth, and Tulsi. Those last three are pro-dictatorship and antisemites. Both Sanders and Warren have hired antisemites to run their campaign. Tulsi is a big supporter of Sanders. This is the club of extreme cucuness and extremism. Bernie is always promoting China and ignoring its concentration camps where they are killing Muslims. Tulsi is the Assad’s first promoter. She wants to be Sander’s VP! Warren lives with Alice in wonderland. Kamala’s parents were Indian and Black. She sees herself as an American; she is. To me Kamala is Kalifornia! Go KAMALA!

          • > Kamala’s parents were Indian and Black.

            > To me Kamala is Kalifornia!

            Good for her. She’s well on her way to winning the migrant and women of color vote in Kalifornia.

            She might even pick up the votes of some white suburban women, too.

            But I’m told that authentic blacks “down for the struggle” AIN’T NEVER GOING TO VOTE FOR A SAN FRANCISCO PROSECUTOR who put black people in jail.

            Who do you expect the white working class in America to vote for?

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