San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco says she’s been followed and photographed by political rivals ever since her initial and unsuccessful 2010 run against scandal-plagued Xavier Campos for the District 5 seat.
Over the ensuing years and even after dethroning Campos in a stunning upset in 2014, Carrasco says they’ve hired private investigators to stake out her apartment in attempts to discredit her ties to the East Side. They’ve snapped cellphone photos of her holding court with constituents at Starbucks. She says they’ve even tried to run her car off the road and paid one of her neighbors to keep an eye on her comings and goings.
But never, to Carrasco’s knowledge, had anyone sent their mom to do the dirty work.
That apparently changed last week, when strident Carrasco critic and re-election challenger Danny Garza upped the ante by deploying his mother dearest to stand sentry outside the councilwoman’s house.
Armed with a black point-and-shoot camera and clad in a matching “Vote Garza” T-shirt, Helen Garza—wife of notoriously corrupt former San Jose Councilman Al Garza, who’s been called the “deadbeat dad” of the city’s modern ethics rules—dutifully snapped pics of Carrasco and her children outside their home.
Carrasco seemed more irritated than intimidated by the 84-year-old woman’s presence, but rebuked it as an extension of Garza’s relentless provocations.
“It does not surprise me, given Garza’s history of intimidation of women, even by his own admission,” Carrasco says, referencing a decades-old domestic violence allegation filed against him by his ex-wife. “He verbally harasses my staff every day and disguises it as so-called transparency.”
Garza calls his ex’s claim that he struck in in the shower unfounded and any assertions that he’s a danger to women a lie. In a May 26 campaign email sensationally embellished by bolded and capital letters, Garza accuses the vice mayor’s campaign of, among other things, “political bullying” and slander for twisting the facts about his case.
As for his mom’s visit to Carrasco’s digs, he says the elder Garza was “just trying to be involved” with her son’s campaign.
The vice mayor shrugs off Garza’s latest antics as a needless distraction. Instead of talking about important issues such as housing, she says, the long-shot candidate “has consistently spread false and alternative facts to divide our community”
Below is a copy of Garza’s cease-and-desist letter.
Dear Councilmember Carrasco:
This is to inform you of unfair and deceptive practices by your campaign in violation of my rights, First Amendment rules and California campaign laws. Below are just a few of the violations already discovered and under investigation. We are reporting these actions to the proper authorities.
SLANDER AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER TO DECEIVE VOTERS. As you know, your campaign supporters are defaming and slandering my character with misrepresented facts from incidents in my past. Cease and desist IMMEDIATELY from spreading any more distortions and lies about my character in phone calls, letters, conversations or any other form of communication with residents of District 5 or any other organization in any form from you or anyone in your campaign or network of supporting organizations. Residents have informed me of the violation of my rights with your false political advertising claims. This is a blatant attempt to deceive voters and I am reporting this violation to the California Secretary of State’s investigations unit immediately. Any organization supporting you in this slanderous campaign against me may also be in violation of the law and will be reported to the authorities accordingly.
VIOLATION OF UNION RULES: SLANDERING A FELLOW UNION MEMBER—POLITICAL BULLYING. I am also going to file a complaint with the unions who support you as a long-time member of local unions part of the South Bay Labor Council. Union members in the phone banks need to know of your attempts to defame me, an ironworker and union member with a history of honorable service ... to the community. I am an honorary disabled member of Ironworkers #337 with over 30 years of local service building Silicon Valley. I was also a member of the SEIU, Local #715 (now #521) serving as an Instructional Aide at Juvenile Hall. There are strict rules with fines against union members slandering fellow union members in an attempt to damage a reputation. It is unfortunate that your campaign organization is abusing the support of union members in this way. I will be filing official complaints with each of the participating unions supporting your campaign.
VIOLATION OF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. Furthermore, public officials are prohibited from blocking free speech or any other citizen’s speech on public official Twitter account in violation of First Amendment rights. This is unconstitutional behavior by an elected official. The courts have ruled that public officials like you are prohibited from censoring public communications with citizens. I posted my rebuttal to your campaign’s slanderous false advertising actions on your Twitter account and it was censored by someone. This behavior will also be reported to the authorities and the citizens of District 5. You cannot treat a public Twitter account you use for public service like your personal account.
VIOLATION OF FPPC AND STATE CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING AND FINANCING RULES. You may also be in violation of FPPC campaign advertising rules by using the cm_magdalena Twitter account for campaign purposes and public use simultaneously. You may be unfairly and illegally using your public account for campaigning. This account has the prefix “CM for Councilmember” and is listed on the City of San Jose District 5 webpage. The account improperly lacks your FPPC number notice required of any campaign advertising medium—printed, digital, etc. You may also be illegally using City resources to manage and promote that account in violation of State financing rules prohibiting the use of public funds for campaigning. This violation will also be reported to the FPPC and other relevant authorities. It should be removed from the City of San Jose site or you must cease campaigning using that Twitter account. This matter needs to be investigated by the proper authorities.
FACTS MATTER. Below are the FACTS of my personal history for you to disseminate to your campaign supporters immediately to correct the defamation and slander activities.
My supporters will be monitoring this situation and I am asking for anyone receiving any further reports of slanderous information from your campaign or supporters to immediately inform me at [email protected].
I will vigorously defend myself against all parties violating my rights. The truth matters in District 5. You need to publicly acknowledge these violations and how you intend to correct them. Your political bullying activities and deceptive practices need to stop immediately.
Very truly yours,
VOTE FOR DANNY GARZA, Accountable To The East Valley, District 5