Cortese, Shirakawa Campaign Forms Provide More Questions than Answers

Paperwork is the worst; unless there isn’t any.

A call down to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters on Thursday turned up some interesting details in the re-election campaigns of county supervisors Dave Cortese and Goerge Shirakawa. Both men ran unopposed to re-election to the board of supervisorsin the recent primary, but both raised money. This begs several questions:

Why would a politician need to raise money for a campaign in which they are running unopposed? And why would someone give money to an unopposed candidate? Could there be some amorous backscratching going on here?

In the case of Shirakawa, it’s almost impossible to say. Please, don’t panic.

Shannon Bushey, assistant Registrar of Voters, confirmed to San Jose Inside that Shirakawa still owes eight campaign disclosure filings for his 2008 Board of Supervisor race. Not 2012. We’re talking about a race that occurred four years ago.

Shirakawa also owes filing for his more recent campaign for periods of March 18 to May 19, May 20 to June 30, and a semi-annual disclosure form that was due July 31.

If that seems ridiculous—and it is—consider the fact that Shirakawa just filed three forms on July 20 pertaining to his time as a school board member. He submitted five other school board filings on March 2 of this year. Shirakawa hasn’t served on a school board since 2006, when he left the East Side Union High School District after four years. Before that, Shirakawa was part of the Franklin Mckliney School District board from 1992-94. Those forms are not yet available online.

The Registrar of Voters confirmed that it has informed Shirakawa that he is delinquent in turning in filings for his supervisor campaigns with little results. His only campaign disclosure filing available for the most recent election cycle comes from Jan. 1 through March 17, and it shows Shirakawa hauled in $18,688. This makes sense, because up until that point there was no guarantee he would run unopposed to re-election.

Shirakawa did make two notable civic donations during that time period to the United Farm Workers ($2,000) and the struggling San Jose Stage Company ($1,000).

Cortese has been better about filing his returns, but some interesting details can be found in his most recent semi-annual disclosure form, which was filed Aug. 7. (Better late than never, we suppose.)

As of June 30, Cortese had raised $33,430 total. He took it easy in the final weeks of campaigning, only bringing in $1,850. But during the timeframe of March 18 to May 19, when Cortese knew he would be unopposed in June, he still raised $11,325. His top contributors, at $500 a pop, included: California Real Estate PAC; Gary Filizetti, president of DevCon Construction; the San Jose POA; Santa Clara County Firefighters; Teamsters Union Local #287; and Yellow Checker Cab Co.

Cortese’s last filing shows he also made civic donations to little league organizations, the United Farm Workers ($2,000), the struggling San Jose Stage Company ($1,000), Bill Wilson Center ($300), City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley ($300), History San Jose ($300) and the County of Santa Clara/Province of Florence, Italy Sister County Commission ($300), amongst others.

Cortese retains a leftover cash balance of $21,154.27.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Why are politicians allowed to use political contributions to curry favor with community organizations?  It’s bad enough giving government money away, but why do they get to give contributions away too.  No wonder incumbents have so much advantage.

    That’s something that campaign reform should go after.

    • Campaign reform should also make it mandatory for any candidate who has previously ran a campaign to disclose if they have made these filings.  How is Shirakawa allowed to keep running for boards, city council and supervisor positions and not make those financial disclosure filings? 

      SJI if campaign reform doesn’t close this loophole then please make a promise to the public that every local race that San Jose Inside will report it BEFORE the elections.  This info doesn’t really help us AFTER the scum is elected or re-elected!

  2. > Shannon Bushey, assistant Registrar of Voters, confirmed to San Jose Inside that Shirakawa still owes eight campaign disclosure filings for his 2008 Board of Supervisor race. Not 2012. We’re talking about a race that occurred four years ago.

    A law without sanctions is merely advice.

    If there are no consequences for not filing, why is anyone surprised that there are no filings.

    The relevant question is:

    What is the legally prescribed hammer for dealing with non-filers, whose job is it to swing the hammer, and why haven’t they done so?

  3. Don’t know about Cortese but, given Big George’s girth and paranoia, I’d speculate that he spent the dough on fast food and home and auto security devices.

    That guy needs to back away from his life-long public trough feeding and get a real job!

  4. Role of the treasurer.

    What is the role of the campaign treasurer?  Were
    the two treasurers paid?  If they were paid, did they not ask why they were being paid?

    From the account that I read the treasures were told that they just had to file a few reports.  I would expect then that when they were paid they would have refused the payments as they had not filed the reports.

    If the system is such that anything goes then anything will go and George will not be or is not the only issue.

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