SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) – The mayor of Santa Clara is accusing San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York of spending millions to support City Council candidates in the upcoming election that may give the team more favorable treatment.
Allegations that the 49ers owner is trying to “buy” Santa Clara City Council elections came out during a news conference at City Hall Thursday by Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
“Jed York is spending $3 million to pick his city councilmembers and buy and control the city of Santa Clara,” Gillmor said.
Mayor Gillmor was joined on the steps of city hall by the police chief.
“What does he want in return, and that is a big concern for me,” said Chief Pat Nikolai.
But just then, some of the city council candidates accused of being on the take crashed the news conference.
“Once again, this is just political theatre to try to make it look like we are all owned by the 49ers. We are not owned by the 49ers. I have not taken a dime from the 49ers,” said Anthony Becker, a City Council Candidate.
The $3 million comes from a PAC called Citizens for Efficient Government and Full Voting Rights, which is tied to York and the 49ers.
The independent campaign expenditures, which the candidates have no control over, can benefit them, especially in media messaging.
The mayor and candidates she supports were accused of getting similar but smaller benefits from the Police Officers Association and developers.
The 49ers called out the mayor in a statement, saying, “Her hypocrisy knows no bounds and we will not shy away from supporting diverse representation and upholding voting rights.”
“And now they’re going to finally call foul after they are out-spent?” asked Becker.
It’s the latest flurry in the ongoing battle over the management of Levi’s Stadium, and a 10 p.m. curfew that York doesn’t like because it blocks late night events, such as concerts.
“Jed York is not supporting candidates that are going to oppose him. They are open to changing the curfew laws which removes the protections and gives Jed York more money,” Gillmor said.
Suds Jain, a City Council candidate, said he is open to changing the curfew because the city will also make money.
“We have big name acts that want to have concerts here and they’ve said we’re not playing in Santa Clara because of the curfew. I’m looking at trying to make the most money we can from the stadium for the city,” said Jain, who is also on the Santa Clara Planning Commission.
The 49ers contributions are legal, but greatly overshadow what candidates can raise for themselves, which has a limit of $25,000.