Well over a week has passed since the Santa Clara County DA served a search warrant on Sheriff Laurie Smith’s Younger Avenue HQ. Officially, few details have been confirmed beyond what we gleaned at the outset: that the probe has something to do with Smith’s command staff, the way concealed-carry permits are issued and a suspicious political contribution to an independent expenditure committee.
Considering how many times Smith been scrutinized for concealed-gun permits over the years, it would be pretty shocking if she, or anyone close to her, was dumb enough to offer some kind of quid pro quo for the privilege of secretly packing heat.
DA Jeff Rosen, who boasts perennially high conviction rates, must have some basis other than their deteriorating relationship to target the county’s top cop.
A review of the 100-or-so permit-holders in this county as of December 2018 shows that most seem to have a reasonable argument to arm themselves. Judges, private eyes and, ironically in this case, prosecutors are well-represented on the list. Some on the roster donated money to support the sheriff’s re-election, albeit years—in some cases decades—after they first obtained a concealed-carry right.
But what of this Martin Nielsen, a veteran bodyguard for an executive protection firm called AS Solution, whose name surfaced because of a $45,000 donation he made last year to a pro-Smith committee? Was he expecting—or was he promised—something in return for the conspicuously generous contribution?
What we do know is that Nielsen represents an industry that’s booming in Silicon Valley, a region where CCWs are notoriously hard to come by. While incidents like last year’s shooting at the YouTube campus have heightened demand for armed security, Silicon Valley, as AS Solution CEO Christian West pointed out in a 2018 blog post, “is known for a lot of things, but not a pro-gun culture.”
Sources familiar with the company Nielsen works for, AS Solution, say the firm counts Google’s Sergey Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg among its clients. Could it be that pressure to maintain and attract that kind of A-list patronage prompted some kind of dubious pact?
Officials at AS Solution say they’re looking for answers, too.
In a statement provided to Fly, the company said: “AS Solution is cooperating fully with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and we have launched our own internal investigation into this matter. AS Solution employees are required to obey the laws, rules and regulations of all countries where we conduct business, and any allegations of improper conduct by employees are treated very seriously. We will take appropriate action based on the outcome of our investigation.”