The San Francisco 49ers football team is spending a staggering sum of money on Supervisor Cindy Chavez in her race to become San Jose mayor.
The Santa Clara-based NFL team has contributed $300,000 to an independent expenditure called “Citizens for Cindy Chavez, Mayor 2022.” According to public records, the committee was set up earlier this month and is funded by the 49ers and the DeBartolo Corporation.
The filing doesn’t disclose any contributions, but 49ers spokesperson Rahul Chandhok confirmed the amount.
“Supervisor Chavez demonstrated exemplary leadership during the pandemic and was instrumental in launching California’s largest vaccination site at Levi’s Stadium last year,” Chandhok told San José Spotlight. “As an organization with roots that extend to San Jose and beyond, we’re supporting Supervisor Chavez because we’re confident she will take action on the South Bay’s most pressing issues such as housing affordability and public safety.”
Chavez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Retired San Jose State University political science professor Terry Christensen told San José Spotlight other individuals and groups have spent significant money on candidates in previous elections through political action committees, but nothing like the amount being spent in one go by the 49ers.
“For an individual organization, it’s unprecedented,” Christensen said.
The independent expenditure is the latest sign the 49ers are throwing support behind Chavez. Last December, 49ers CEO Jed York and President Al Guido endorsed Chavez’s campaign, citing her efforts to distribute COVID-19 tests and vaccines and expanding access to public transportation. Ronnie Lott, a pro football hall of famer who was part of the 49ers dynasty that won four Super Bowls, was advertised as a special guest at a Chavez fundraiser last December.
Chavez has picked up significant financial support from at least one other independent expenditure committee. Service Employees International Union Local 521 recently contributed $75,000 to a political action committee (PAC) set up by Bloom Energy executive Carl Guardino to support Chavez’s campaign. The PAC, called “San Jose Together, supporting Cindy Chavez for Mayor 2022,” was formed in February.
The next batch of financial disclosures for primary election candidates are due at the end of the month. Chavez is competing with several San Jose councilmembers: Dev Davis, Matt Mahan and Raul Peralez. Former San Jose police officer Jim Spence and San Jose State University student Marshall Woodmansee are also running. The candidates recently outlined their priorities during a forum hosted by San José Spotlight.
Early campaign filings revealed Chavez trailing Mahan in fundraising, who as of January raised $504,000, compared to her $479,346.
Tran Nguyen contributed additional reporting.