A Santa Clara official is facing criminal charges related to lying about leaking a report on councilmembers and 49ers executives.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Councilmember Anthony Becker with perjury on Friday for allegedly lying to a civil grand jury about leaking a report on relationships between the San Francisco 49ers and city policymakers last year. That perjury charge is a felony.
Becker is also facing a misdemeanor for allegedly violating his duty to keep the draft report confidential.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
Becker is accused of leaking the report several days before it was due to be publicly released, and violating his duty to keep the report confidential, according to the district attorney’s office. He appeared in court Monday morning, but did not enter a plea. He’s expected back in court on May 3.
Becker told San José Spotlight he’s been advised not to say anything by his attorney, public defender Chris Montoya. Montoya was not immediately available for comment.
The 61-page Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report from October 2022 accused five Santa Clara city policymakers—dubbed the “49 Five”—of having close ties with 49ers lobbyists. The report raised questions of the team’s political influence over council meetings and votes, and said private meetings between the leaders and team should be recorded. The five include Becker, along with Councilmembers Karen Hardy, Raj Chahal and Suds Jain and Vice Mayor Kevin Park.
The 49ers refuted the report, calling the jury “stacked” with Mayor Lisa Gillmor’s political allies. The report was released shortly before last November’s election, where Becker and Gillmor faced off. Several of the accused, including Becker, previously told San José Spotlight they weren’t interviewed for the report.
Brian Brokaw, a 49ers spokesperson, said the team can only make limited comments given the current investigation.
“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the district attorney’s office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” Brokaw told San José Spotlight.
Santa Clara spokesperson Michelle Templeton said the city has no comment regarding the grand jury’s decision.
“The city will continue to monitor and evaluate this situation and any impacts it might have on city governance,” she told San Jose Spotlight.
Rich Robinson, a political observer and San José Spotlight columnist, said the charges are the latest example of political dysfunction in Santa Clara. This is not the first contentious moment in the city’s relationship with the football team, and a lawsuit between the two over management at Levi’s Stadium only ended last August.
“It’s not healthy for the city,” Robinson told San José Spotlight. “All of this political drama, and all this legal drama that goes on, it’s costing taxpayers millions for no real apparent reason, with no substance to it. It’s just sort of ludicrous.”
Gillmor, Watanabe, Hardy, Park and Chahal did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Jain declined to comment.
If convicted of perjury, Becker could face a maximum of four years in jail. He’s due back in court on May 3.
Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.
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