Did Xavier Campos Relinquish His Ability to Take the Fifth?

Getting San Jose Councilman Xavier Campos to agree to an interview is a difficult proposition. Unless you’re the New York Times or NBC Bay Area’s Damian Trujillo. The latter scored an on-air interview this week with the councilman, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in front of the grand jury last month.

In the interview, Campos says that he had nothing to do with a fraudulent political mailer that helped him defeat his opponent, Magdalena Carrasco, in the 2010 council race. He also said he took the Fifth because he doesn’t trust the District Attorney’s office.

“I’ve seen a number of elected officials, and the allies of elected officials, be prosecuted and then charges later dropped or dismissed, and their lives left in shambles,” Campos told NBC.

While it’s not clear exactly who he meant, Campos would likely be referring to former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, who was indicted in in the NorCal trash scandal along with his budget director, Joe Guerra. A judge threw out the charges, citing a prosecutorial error and ruling that exchanging nonspecific promises of political support for contract favors failed to constitute political graft. It is worth noting that those indictments preceded current District Attorney Jeff Rosen, whose office just last week successfully put pilfering former county Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.—Campos’ close friend and former boss—in jail. The next trial for Shirakawa, who was indicted by the grand jury in connection with the mail fraud, begins next month.

The NBC interview, at least what was aired, didn’t delve into why Campos had the help of unpaid political consultants in 2010—Ed McGovern, Ryan Ford and Rolando Bonilla received $65,728 total from the 2010 campaign of the councilman’s sister, Assemblywoman Nora Campos—or question the use of Linda Delgado as his campaign treasurer. Delgado is the mother of one of Shirakawa’s children, and she held the same position during his supervisor campaigns, when he was using contributions to gamble and pay for lavish dinners and trips. Delgado also asserted her Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate herself by answering questions before the grand jury.

What could give the NBC story legs are comments made to Trujillo by legal analyst Steven Clark. After watching the interview, Clark said, “Because [Campos] doesn’t trust the process, that’s not a valid reason to assert the Fifth.” Clark added that Campos could be called back in front of the grand jury, but he might not be able to invoke the Fifth again. By publicly broaching the subject and declaring he had no role in the illegal activity, it would seem there is no reason Campos cannot testify.

Campos vowed in the interview that he will not talk about the matter anymore, except with constituents. We’ll see if that promise can be kept.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

7 Comments

  1. Xavier Campos claims he doesn’t trust the DA’s office?  He is insulting every single attorney and worker in the District Attorney’s office.  Aren’t county workers in the DA’s office union workers?  I thought that was Campos’ stronghold?  Now he questions authority of the law?  He seems to forget that his boss and buddy wasn’t persecuted he was PROSECUTED and ended up pleading GUILTY to felony charges!  The only people who should be afraid of the law are the ones breaking it.  Campos makes it seem like people should not trust authority. 

    Ok, well maybe we don’t trust shady, slimy, cheating and thieving elected officials who do anything to steal elections and live off slush funds with no accountability.  He says he wants to talk to his constituents, well how does he think the majority of the D5 residents get their news?  It is via the paper & news outlets both of which he continually only says “NO COMMENT”  Is that his new bumper sticker? 

    Put the guy in jail Rosen, the public deserves justice.  He skated by with the MACSA embezzlement and now he’s trying to do the same.

  2. This comment is directed at the good work of San Jose Inside. The San Jose Mercury does nothing more that take what it finds out about in other media such as SJI, the NBC Investigative Unit, or ever The Daily Fetch, and prints it in The Mercury a few days later. It happens all the time. There is nothing new in The Mercury, and all they seem to do at The Mercury is cut and paste from other news sources. There was a murder last night at Leigh and San Carlos. Not a mention of it in The Mercury. I Googled a couple things and there it was at the NBC news site. Very typical. Keep up the good work, SJI, and the other news sources.

    • Even worse is most of the Mercury News’ local print section is filled with articles from the Palo Alto Daily, another paper owned by the MediaNews Group.  San Jose subscribers pay a lot of money to read recycled articles Palo Alto residents can read in print for free.

      • San Jose Mercury’s new motto to hook new customers:

        “If you are looking for the first scoop, don’t read the Bay Area News Group”

  3. I wonder how well the “I don’t trust the DA” defense will work for Campos. Maybe he’ll just have to stay after school and pound erasers for detention.

    Shirakawa used the “I’m a depressed gambler” defense, and got his original 40 charges plea bargained/reduced to 12 charges, and he then got 12 months – one month per crime, but he should get out in 6 months, which is a net 2 weeks per crime. (Not counting the 28 charges that were simply bargained away.)  Not bad for stealing $130K.

    A few months ago, a Santa Cruz reader wrote that over there you can get 5 years for stealing a pizza.