Dave Cortese's isn't too proud to play the game.
On the same day his campaign suffered a blow, firing spokesman Jay Reed following San Jose Inside's report of sexist tweets, the San Jose mayoral candidate withstood a legal challenge by the City Clerk to join Sam Liccardo in opting out of the voluntary expenditure limit.
Just last month, Liccardo took a bold step in forgoing the spending cap so he could spend an unlimited amount of dollars in the runoff. At the risk of turning off voters who think money has too large an influence on politics, he filed a Form 500 stating his intent to sidestep the spending cap the day after the June 3 primary, according to City Clerk Toni Taber.
Liccardo's campaign manager, Ragan Henninger, told San Jose Inside the decision was made to overcome "what we expect to be millions of contributions to our opponent through various special interests—card clubs, marijuana dispensaries and unions."
Both Liccardo and Cortese accepted the cap in the primary, and the latter put out a bristling statement July 10 objecting to Liccardo's decision to opt for the runoff.
“Well over a million dollars was spent between Sam and the superPAC of conservative CEOs supporting him in the primary,” Cortese said last month. “We’re surprised that he is trying to turn back decades of local campaign finance reform by refusing the spending cap. In my opinion, we need less money in politics, not more.”
Apparently, that "opinion" didn't last long.
On June 17, Cortese filed a Form 500 stating he would stay under the spending cap. But more than a month later, July 25, he filed an amended Form 500 declaring his intent to opt out. Taber's office filed a lawsuit as a result, noting that campaign law requires the form to be filed within 14 days of the primary.
A lawsuit was filed—(we will update the post when we have the decision)—and a judge ruled Cortese's camp could proceed in opting out of the spending cap. Cortese told San Jose Inside in a text message Wednesday afternoon that he was not free to talk about his decision to opt out of the cap, just minutes after a previous text noted that his campaign spokesman no longer worked for the campaign.
Liccardo did not immediately respond to a text for comment.
This year's mayor's race has long been expected to be the most expensive in San Jose history. Just through June 30, Cortese and Liccardo's personal campaigns combined to spend more than $1.4 million.
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Dave Cortese's campaign filed the legal challenge. San Jose Inside regrets the error.