Five months after executive bodyguard Martin Nielsen donated $45,000 to an independent campaign committee supporting Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith’s re-election, she gave him a hard-to-get concealed gun permit.
On March 26, the same day the sheriff signed off on Nielsen’s permit, she authorized yet another for Rachael Paskvan—one of his colleagues at AS Solution, a multi-national firm that employs bodyguards to protect Silicon Valley’s rich and famous.
Up until this past week, Paskvan’s LinkedIn profile listed her as an “executive protection agent” for AS Solution. Sometime in the past week or so, she updated her job title to “advance security manager” for Facebook. On Sept. 2, she posted on Facebook about leaving her job at AS Solution in Bellevue, Washington.
Paskvan has a master’s degree in international security with a focus on counterterrorism, according to a video uploaded to YouTube last year by AS Solution in which she advises women to be “unapologetically ambitious” in moving ahead in the male-dominated executive protection field.
Her name showed up on a list released late Thursday afternoon by the Sheriff’s Office, which is under a months-long investigation by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen for the way it administers its concealed weapon permits.
San Jose Inside broke the story about the DA probe in early August after prosecutors served a search warrant on Smith’s Younger Avenue headquarters, the home of Capt. James Jensen and one other officer whose identity San Jose Inside has yet to confirm. Investigators seized laptops, cellphones and stacks of concealed-carry permit files.
Nielsen made his remarkably generous donation to the pro-Smith Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance PAC in early October—just about a month before the sheriff won an unprecedented sixth term in office. Attorney Christopher Schumb and mortgage lender James Campagna served as co-treasurers of the independent expenditure committee that accepted the Nielsen contribution.
Schumb has declined to comment on the probe; Campagna previously told San Jose Inside that he has nothing to hide and shared a scanned copy of Nielsen’s check.
A source familiar with the matter said the $45,000 payment came shortly after someone deposited $70,000 into Nielsen’s checking account linked to the Santa Monica branch of Citibank. If anyone else provided the money for Nielsen’s five-figure campaign gift, that would violate campaign finance law.
San Jose Inside has kept tabs on Nielsen since spotting his donation last fall, but only learned about Paskvan from the updated concealed-carry list released this week.
The records show that 14 new names were added to said list in 2019—the rest were renewed permits. And at least two have ties to AS Solution, which boasts Facebook C-suiters Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as clients.
In all, per the Sheriff’s Office, there are about 150 people currently permitted to carry concealed guns in Santa Clara County. Sixteen of them were given the green light since Smith’s re-election. And nine donated to her 2018 campaign.