Santa Clara

Campaign Spending by 49ers CEO in Santa Clara Election Raises Concerns

NBC Universal, Inc.

The CEO of the San Francisco 49ers has spent a record $3 million on supporting four candidates running for city council in Santa Clara, prompting the mayor and others to cry foul.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor is accusing Jed York of trying to buy a majority on the council so he can ask them for favors that will make him more money.

"Jed York is not going to spend $3 million on candidates that oppose him," Gillmor said. "He is going to spend $3 million on candidates that are friendly to him."

Santa Clara's chief of police said he's worried the candidates who the 49ers are supporting will help push a 49ers agenda, such as getting rid of the stadium curfew.

"If they eliminate the curfew, that would lead to later nights, longer hours for my officers and potentially more problems," Chief Pat Nikolai said.

But the 49ers — and the candidates they're supporting — have fired back, denying accusations that they are buying seats on the council and putting candidates in their pocket.

Rahul Chandhok, a spokesperson for the 49ers, told NBC Bay Area that their support is only about having more diverse representation on the city council and equal and fair voting rights for people in Santa Clara, saying, "Mayor Gillmor is once again supporting a slate of all white candidates while she spends millions of dollars in taxpayer money to upend voting rights to dilute minority representation."

"I’m going to treat the 49ers just as I treat the city," candidate Anthony Becker said. "I’m going to treat every single entity the same way because it’s about an independent voice and actually standing up for the residents of Santa Clara."

Candidate Harbir Bhatia also chimed in.

"That’s the reason why we’re being such a threat to the current city council because we’re all independent thinkers," Bhatia said. "We’re all very highly qualified, we have great connections in the community and we have been door knocking left and right. So, who’s to say it’s because of them we’re going to win?"

In Santa Clara, candidates can't directly spend more than $25,000 on a campaign, but independent expenditures are unlimited, so the 49ers' spending is legal.

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