SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – On the eve of the election, the Silicon Valley Organization announced Monday that it is dissolving its political action committee amid continuing fallout over a racist campaign ad.
The business advocacy organization voted Monday to immediately dissolve the SVO PAC and cease its operations in “a step toward restoring its 130-year reputation.” The dissolution would be subject to campaign finance laws and reporting requirements.
Last week, the organization was under fire from an attack ad against San Jose City Council candidate Jake Tonkel, alleging he supports defunding the police. In it, the ad featured a group of Black men in what appears to be a riot in South Africa accompanied by a graphic reading, “Do you really want to sign onto this?”
On Monday, dozens of elected officials condemned the ad at a briefing outside the organization’s San Jose headquarters.
“They have a picture with Black men and what looks like smoke or tear gas, and they’re trying to put that image in people’s heads. If these where White people who were marching or protesting, would they have used this image? We know they wouldn’t have,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)
Ellen Kamei, Vice Mayor of Mountain View, said, “Time is up, enough is enough. We don’t stand for this behavior.”
After the ad was posted, three SVO board members resigned in protest. The group’s president and CEO Matt Mahood also resigned after leading the organization for nine years.
“I am very sorry for the completely unacceptable image that was put up on our website earlier this week,” Mahood’s statement said in part. “That image and messaging DOES NOT represent who I am as a man, a father, a husband or community leader. The people who know me and work with me on a regular basis know that. And I also know that the image and messaging does NOT represent the values of our members or the SVO Board of Directors.”
A group of non-profits and charities also denounced the organization and announced they were rescinding their membership in the group.
Both Tonkel and his opponent Dev Davis, who was backed by SVO, have denounced the ad.
It wasn’t the SVO’s first controversial ad. Others have darkened the skin tone of Latino candidates.
The organization had hired a third-party investigator to determine how and why the image was posted. Results of the investigation are expected to be announced at a news conference set for November 10.