A privacy-invading anonymous website known for personal attacks on journalists and political adversaries of local labor-backed politicians has been tied to the inner circle of former vice mayor and newly-appointed South Bay Labor Council chief executive Cindy Chavez.
According to electronic evidence inspected by San Jose Inside, an administrator of the site, “San Jose Revealed,” is Manhattan-based former SBLC political director Philip Bump. The labor council made payments to Bump until earlier this year, according to two sources.
When one frequent victim of San Jose Revealed’s particularly vicious attacks asked Chavez for help in removing a map to his residence that had been posted to the site, Chavez asked a number of questions about San Jose Inside’s ownership structure. The information shared with Chavez appeared on San Jose Revealed a few days later, in the June 9, 2008 post “Who Owns San Jose Inside?”
After the map was published by Revealed, the home’s owner, falsely accused of making money through pornography, became the victim of a hate crime that involved property destruction and swastika graffiti.
It wasn’t the first time San Jose Revealed turned politics personal. The site published a map to deputy district attorney David Pandori’s home. (Pandori has a family and prosecutes gangs for a living.) It made an issue out of McEnery’s daughter’s late payment of a garbage bill. And in 2007 it breathlessly posted the Match.com dating profile of District 6 councilman Pierluigi Oliverio.
Chavez’s husband, Mike Potter, was named on Monday as part of San Jose Revealed’s supporting cast by Santa Clara political consultant and blogger James Rowen. “Mike and Cindy hate San Jose Inside,” says Rowen, who knows Potter from their days together as Campus Democrats at San Jose State University. Rowen says he talks to Potter from time to time and that “issues that get on San Jose Revealed are the ones Mike talks about.”
Another local political insider reports that during a visit to the office of Assemblyman Joe Coto, for whom Potter works, Potter brought up a number of subjects that were editorial obsessions of Revealed.
Chavez political allies say the labor council executive hasn’t been able to let go of anger stemming from from criticism she faced during her campaign for mayor and the pummeling she took at the ballot box in 2006. Her opponent, Chuck Reed, received almost 60 percent of the vote in a high-turnout election, the largest margin by a non-incumbent in decades. Team Chavez blames what she considers unfair press coverage by the Mercury News and Metro for the lopsided defeat. In addition to endorsements for her opponents, Metro published articles that detailed Chavez’s grandstanding on “sunshine reform” after secret meetings and seven-years of inaction and her support for a development project as a Valley Transportation Authority Board member around the time that large campaign contributions started showing up in her campaign reports and in the accounts of the local Democratic party. Metro was also investigated the South Bay Labor Council’s financial cost-sharing with Working Partnerships, a 501c3 that receives financial support from charitable foundations.
Metro’s executive editor, Dan Pulcrano, is a frequent target of San Jose Revealed’s personal attacks. “It’s a badge of honor for a journalist to face heat for doing the right thing,” Pulcrano says. “Our investigative journalism educated the public and helped bring more transparency to City Hall, which is good for the citizens of San Jose, and I’m proud of that.”
San Jose Revealed made its appearance on the Web four months after Reed was sworn in as mayor of San Jose.
McEnery refers to his anonymous critics as “Baathist remnants” of a deposed political machine. McEnery was also targeted in an ethics complaint to the elections board brought by attorney Jim McManis on behalf of anonymous complainant. The board cleared McEnery of any serious violations.
Bump is “an independent communications consultant” according to his Web site, and has “experience in political strategy, web technology and design” and writes “speeches, grant proposals, newsletter content and press materials.” He also blogs for the Huffington Post. Bump’s bio on huffingtonpost.com says he “spends most of his time doing political and communications consulting.” Much of San Jose Revealed’s posts are written in the same first person style Bump uses in his Huffington Post pieces.
The San Jose Revealed site is currently down, something that has happened before. Last summer, the site went dark after the Mercury News printed a rumor that Chavez and husband Potter were pulling the strings. Chavez denied involvement. The site reappeared in a different format. Before the site disappeared from the Web, a July 6 post said, “I will be back in August.”
The site also made news in February 2008 when former Chavez staffer Eric Hernandez hacked into the City Hall email account of Councilman Sam Liccardo’s girlfriend, Jessica Garcia-Kohl, and sent documents to San Jose Revealed. Despite his humble roots, Hernandez made bail quickly and was represented by one of the city’s most expensive criminal attorneys, Steve Manchester. Hernandez pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and pay $100 restitution.