Santa Clara Family Health Foundation Fights Public Records Request

The Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, a local nonprofit that helped bump up the county’s sales tax last fall, doesn’t want the public to know about its secret political activities. And now it’s lawyering up to quash Metro/San Jose Inside’s public records act requests. Health Foundation attorney Ash Pirayou informed county officials that he’ll seek a court injunction to prevent the Santa Clara Family Health Plan—a county agency that provides insurance to low-income children—from releasing Health Foundation board agendas, minutes and emails. The foundation leases office space from the Health Plan, led by CEO Elizabeth Darrow, and uses Health Plan email accounts. Health Foundation CEO Kathleen King, who served as mayor of Saratoga in 2010 and then briefly ran for county supervisor, has been scrambling for months to keep her organization afloat when it became clear the foundation served as little more than a conduit for funding to the Health Plan—after skimming off the top to pay King and her staff. Not content to let her $160,000 salary slip away, King recently hired a consultant to rejigger the foundation’s mission, which then led her to brazenly ask the county for $15 million extra in funding. But apparently County Executive Jeff Smith, whom we hear King unsuccessfully lobbied to defy the records request, told her he could find plenty of other ways to waste that money. One other possible reason for the panic, however, has much greater implications. The foundation last year handed $400,000—40 percent of its total revenues if you don’t count the $1 million in Healthy Kids insurance premiums that simply flow in and out of its bank accounts—to two groups controlled by county supervisor candidate Cindy Chavez. Chavez also serves as a Health Foundation officer and executive committee member. Could all this be an attempt to keep this information away from the public until after the special election?

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

4 Comments

  1. Remember folks that the big flies at Metro/San Jose Inside’ may have political motives in pushing out these smear campaigns.

    • Regardless of Metro or Merc having personal agendas with this reporting, no one if forcing these elected officials and agency leaders break, skirt and bend the law.  No one is forcing them to embezzle agency funds by illegally redirecting funds or to outright steal it. 

      There’d be nothing to report if they weren’t all so criminal and shady.  Thank God Metro is on the job and being the only local paper to truly investigate the elected officials in this county.

      Cindy Chavez’s campaign manager admitted today that they found a way to circumvent the law.  That means they know it betrays the intent of the law and the protection of the public but they’re doing it anyways.  They found what they are defending as a legal way to cheat.  That is about as shady as it gets.

    • A lawyer that works for a nonprofit is trying to block a public records request to a government agency?  How does a lawyer for a nonprofit even find out about a public records request?

      Was it because someone that works for the government agency told them?  And if that’s the case, why would anyone do that if it was inconsequential?

      If I worked for the Merc, I’d file a duplicate public records request right now, because you have to believe there is a story here.

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