County Reform Efforts Continue in Wake of Shirakawa Scandal

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors enacted a new policy this week to make sure no one repeats George Shirakawa Jr.’s mistakes in failing to file campaign disclosure forms.

The 4-0 ruling requires the Registrar of Voters to issue a warning within five days of a missed deadline to anyone running for county office or campaigning for a local measure, according to the Mercury News. If no response is heard within 10 days, the case gets forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission for review.

Now, theoretically, there’s no escaping detection.

The new rules are the latest in the county’s efforts to prevent the type of felonious abuses committed by Shirakawa, the former District 2 Supervisor whose unlawful actions were first uncovered by Metro and San Jose Inside.

Shirakawa, 51, pleaded guilty this spring to five felonies and seven misdemeanors related to misspending campaign and the public’s money. After repeatedly lying in public statements, he blamed a gambling addiction for the abuses, which included lying on campaign finance reports, funneling contributions into a secret bank account and using his county-issued charge card for personal expenses. Prosecutors added another felony charge this month after DNA found on a postage stamp, affixed to a fraudulent political mailer in 2010, matched a sample he submitted to authorities after being booked into jail.

Supervisors have already voted to strengthen audit controls to make sure the county performs its due diligence in monitoring finances of elected officials.

Earlier in the year, Board President Ken Yeager asked his colleagues to vote for stricter oversight of P-card spending, which is now under the control of county Chief Operating Officer Gary Graves. Recently, the board also voted to make supervisors’ meeting calendars open to the public, so anyone can see what their representative is doing with their time. 

County Executive Jeff Smith has also launched a “Reform Efforts” webpage.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. We need transparency on all election campaign reports (like the City of San Jose does) so the public can also review. I would like to hear both District 2 candidates (Cindy Chavez and Teresa Alvarado) perspective on this.

    • Are you brain dead?  City of SJ has none, zero, nada transparency.  Get off of Chucks cool aid.

      PO, Pete, Sam is this your post?

      No wonder this city is going down with your failing sewer plant.

    • your an idiot if you believe anything that comes out in writing or posts from chuck and his clowns.

      suppose you buy into budget Measure B as well.