Mayor Reed Wants to Allow Legal Defense Funds for Officeholders in San Jose

Elected officials in San Jose may soon be able to raise money for their own legal defense fund, if the City Council eventually approves a plan up for review at Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee meeting.

Right now, the city bans legal defense accounts for elective officials. But a 2008 state law updated the Political Reform Act to allow them. It’s up to municipal governments to decide whether to permit them at a local level. Mayor Chuck Reed decided earlier this year at his biennial ethics review meeting that he wants to clarify the law in San Jose.

Contributions to a legal defense account are meant for attorney’s fees and other legal costs related to defending the officeholder or candidate in a criminal, administrative or civil proceeding.

The provision going before the Rules Committee this week would limit the amount an elected official can solicit or receive. It also prevents them from asking for donations unless it’s been reasonably concluded that the city has done its due diligence in investigating the proceeding.

Funds raised for these accounts can’t be used for media or political consultants, mailing, advertising, fines and settlements, or other penalties. The proposed ordinance was written with a proposed $500 contribution limit, similar to the cap imposed on other campaign contributions. This would be far more restrictive than the county’s rules on legal defense funds, which allowed George Shiraakwa Jr. to take $10,000 from developer John Vidovich.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for October 30, 2013:

• The City Clerk will recalculate campaign expenditure limits based on the latest Bay Area-specific increase in the Consumer Price Index, a federal measure for the average change in the price of consumer goods and services.

• A neighborhood petition with 346 signatures asks the city to protect wildlife on the western flank of “Dairy Hill,” a slope by Communications Hill Boulevard that Oak Hill Cemetery wants to buy.

“We enjoy the frequent wildlife sightings and want to see the oak reforestation project on the hillside be successful,” nearby resident Scott Guthridge writes.

• The ever-effusive David Wall likens Mayor Reed to Captain Ahab from “Moby Dick” and his embattled pension reforms to the great white whale. “… [C]rime is rampant in the city of San Jose while Mayor Ahab pursues the white whale of pension reform,” Wall writes in his one and only letter to the city this week.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wedneday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to jenniferw@metronews.com or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

17 Comments

  1. “Contributions to a legal defense account are meant for attorney’s fees and other legal costs related to defending the officeholder or candidate in a criminal, administrative or civil proceeding.”

    Is there some concern that there may be a need for this?

    • I think it’s just a matter of time that all of the fallout surrounding George Shirakawa’s demise eventually starts to land on Xavier Campos, for one.

  2. I read the letter by David Wall that you have linked too. Even tbough you try and minimize his words by referring to him as “The ever-effusive David Wall” his points are still valid and spot on. The city orginally contracted with outside attorneys $100, 000.00 to defend Measure B. At tonights City Council meeting the Mayor and rest of the City Council will add an additional $650, 000.00 to that contract to a total contract price to date of 2.75 MILLION Dollars. Yes folks…2.75 MILLION DOLLARS AND CLIMBING. Money that could have been used for libraries, potholes etc. How does that happen? Because enough people like David Wall are not guarding the hen house.

  3. Why would our elected officials need legal defense funds?  Are they planning to commit crimes? I don’t get it at all.

    • My thought, exactly. I think something is going on and trouble is brewing where it is known that butt is going to need to be covered.

  4. Rufus is a lawyer and knows his obstructionist ways will bring lawsuits his way… Like most dirty politicians, he’ll be found out eventually… This is a way for his developer buddies to have his back while protecting their behinds.  Watch who contributes to his defense fund.

    I’d imagine Constant will get junk food donations to his fund, and the balance will mysteriously decline as his waistline expands.  Khamis and Connolly will solicit defense funding from Irish Spring and Lucky Charms, while Herrera and PLO seek money from the sign manufacturing firms of Silicon Valley.

    • Most likely Herrera would solicit funds from Downtown Charter Prep, where her son is a founding principal…of the same school that she voting to forgive a $600k loan made by the City to DCP. 

      Now this is where a LDF might be needed.

  5. Why slam David Wall.  He makes sense.  Has more common sense then anyone on council.  The mayor says he needs a defense fund because of all the lies.  When he indicted for the lies and 2.6 billion in RDA money he will need this money.  People are waking up to see he has sold SJ a bill of goods.

  6. @#$$@ Mayor is out of control trying to protect his clowns down the road. this city council is out of control – welcome SJ residents you will pay a heck of money.  Look for big taxes / ballet measures but since you never read the issues or vote you will get what you deserve.

  7. Has anyone put together the fact that Reed is a lawyer, and everything he does revolves around lawsuits?  If you dont think this is his way of providing payola to his blood-sucking brethren, you are sadly mistaken.

  8. I’ll take $2.7M in legal costs to fight $270,000,000 of ANNUAL pension costs on any given day.

    Chuck (David) vs. “Noveau Pensioners Establishment” (Goliath)

    GO CHUCK!

    • Those numbers are misrepresented.  Instead of pension costs calculated over 30 years with average rate of return over that period, Rufas uses a much shorter term with a rate of return from recession.  The only good that can come of his lies is that in a few years, the fund will be fully paid up and there will $270M a year “extra”.  It’s like paying your mortgage in 5 years instead of 30 but complaining the whole time you have no money for food.

  9. So this idea of “legal defense fund (LDF) for office holders” came out of “Mayor Reed’s biennial ethics review meeting…”

    What exactly went on in that meeting? What came to light in that meeting that lead Mayor Reed to the conclusion that officer holders now need an LDF?

    Has anyone else here noticed that this is yet another bit of instructive insight into the make up of Chuck Rufus Reed?

    Who got caught with his hand in the taxpayers cookie jar long before Shirakawa?  D4 Councilman Chuck Reed.  Who avoided criminal charges in that matter by preemptively repaying what he stole? Chuck Reed. And, Who supported if not crafted legislation that allowed for office holder slush funds so that councilmembers would not have to spend their own money to pay for things he had previously felt entitled to due to his elected position?  If you said , “Chuck Reed” you would be correct.

    Who ended up with unspent money in a PAC for pension reform ballot measures and ended up ILLEGALLY using that money to help fund a councilmember / supporter’s re-election campaign?  Mayor Chuck Reed.  Who got caught dirty , claimed ignorance, found to have acted illegally and was then fined all of one green back dollar for his transgression? Mayor Chuck Reed.

    Who ran for mayor and was elected on an “open government – sunshine reform – its all about ethics” platform?  Mayor Chuck Reed! Who has stood firm in his resolve to have City – Employee contract negotiations held in secret meetings with non-disclosure orders despite the FACT that the Employee Bargaining Units (aka in some circles including the Mayor’s as “Evil Union Thugs”) have repeatedly called for NEGOTIATIONS MEETINGS THAT ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?? Right again, Mayor Chuck Reed.

    So before you dismiss this as “Mayor Reed performing a little administrative housecleaning before he terms out” by enacting LDF funds authorized by state law you really have consider what his real motivation is. 

    Reed has shown time and time again that his own “moral compass” dictates that he do what is best for himself and his causes.

    (also posted on the MW FB page because SJI can’t be trusted to publish opinions that run counter its own)

  10. Seems logical that the only reason “officeholders ” would need a Defense fund is for when they have done something illegal. So why should the residents of San Jose have to pony up for a Corrupt Mayor??? Reed is going to continue to lie , cheat and steal, AND now wants residents to pay for it! Thats just simply pathetic

    • > Seems logical that the only reason “officeholders ” would need a Defense fund is for when they have done something illegal. So why should the residents of San Jose have to pony up for a Corrupt Mayor??? Reed is going to continue to lie , cheat and steal, AND now wants residents to pay for it!

      Well, if a LDF is good enough for Bill and Hillary Clinton, it’s good enough for San Jose’s bush leaguers.

  11. I wonder if one or more of these city council members needs a LDF for something that as yet to be discovered or brought to light. Interesting. This smells.