Chuck Reed’s Dollar Fine to Cost Taxpayers $106,000

By the Numbers: $106,173

A couple years ago, then-San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed got into some hot water when his pension reform committee shuffled $100,000 to another group that helped re-elect Rose Herrera to the City Council.

The Fair Political Practices Commission deemed the transfer illegal and levied a fine after a months-long investigation in 2013. But the penalty was largely symbolic—only $1—because the commission decided that Reed acted unintentionally.

However, with much more than a dollar at stake, Reed appealed the ruling in a bid to recoup legal fees, clear his name and revise campaign finance rules.

Fast-forward to this year: Reed won the appeal, which earned him the right to negotiate a settlement. Now, according to the Sacramento Bee, the FPPC has to cover the cost of his attorney fees, which amounted to $106,173.50.

That’s quite a price to pay for just a dollar.

Reed's critics called on him to decline the payout. Californians for Retirement Security—a 1.6 million member coalition of government retirees—said his years-long campaign to rein in public employee pensions has already cost California taxpayers millions of dollars.

In 2014, Reed sued state Attorney General Kamala Harris over the title and summary of a failed statewide pension reform measure, which cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, pension reforms championed by Reed and approved by voters in San Jose spurred a years-long legal bout with unions that has cost the city somewhere around $5 million.

“Once again, taxpayers are on the hook for Reed’s political agenda, this time with six-figure payment,"said the group’s chairman, Dave Low. "If he was sincere about saving taxpayer money, he wouldn’t be continually trying to squeeze taxpayers for additional dollars for him and his lawyers.”

This article has been updated. 

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


  1. Just another example of how “the worst Mayor in San Jose history” is sticking it to the residents of San Jose

    • His legacy will never be eradicated. The damage that he has done, and continues to do will almost never be undone.

  2. If any of these reporters had real reporting “chops” they would be looking at who is funding Chuck Reed’s crusade against public pensions (aside from the taxpayers, of course). Seriously, where is the money coming from to finance this campaign, because he’s not doing it for free. I’m not a reporter, but I would guess that financial institutions, hedge funds, other organizations see a big pile of 401K fees (for managing the money) coming their way if public employee pensions go to a 401K – type of retirement planning.

        • The Koch Bros and other billionaires are Reed’s handlers. This man is beyond corrupt and shady.

      • Josh:

        As long as you’re looking into things, may I suggest that you look into the TPP.

        This is the MOST curious thing.

        The TPP is the only example I can recall of a piece of legislation that is SECRET in it’s drafting and consideration, AND apparently intended to be kept secret after it’s passage.

        The public isn’t allowed to know what is in this legislation, and members of Congress can only see the legislation in a secured facility, can’t take notes, and can’t tell their constituents what’s in it.


        Obama wants it secret. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner want it secret..

        The public, we have been told, wants an end to politics.

        Well, THEY GOT IT! There is no politics here. It’s ONE PARTY “THEY’RE ALL THE-SAME” politics.


        The TPP is a very big deal for Silicon Valley. Exports and intellectual property are a huge part of our local economy.

        And yet, our local elected politicians act as if NOTHING is going on.

        Sleepy Honda is as asleep as ever.

        Nancy Pelosi (“you have to pass the bill to see what’s in it”), Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein . . . all missing in action.

        Maybe we should file a missing persons report on all our local elected representatives.

        Yeah, maybe Chuck Reed needs investigation. Maybe SCCBOE needs investigation.

        But TPP IS the business and the economy of Silicon Valley, and affects the lives and livelyhoods of everyone in San Jose and the Bay Area.

        If there is ANYTHING that needs investigating, it is TPP. This is you chance to make the Merc look REALLY, REALLY bad.

  3. Whoa! Lots of acrimony here. Guess you’re all not used to getting interrupted when you’re sucking so hard on the public teat!

    • Maybe some of the acrimony stems from the fact that Chuck Reed is eligible if not currently collecting a pension from CalPERS for which taxpayers foot the bill which is equal to at least 32% of his highest years salary which got as a perq for a mere 16 years of being elect to not only suck from the public teet himself but gave him the oppprtunity create multiple teets for his real estate law practices clients aka: real estate developers? Maybe it stems from the fact that Chuck benefits from the very teeth that he ripped from dedicated career police and fire fighters , librarians, gardeners City Attorney’s and other City employees. Chuck took our milk for himself and his cronies and left us dry and relishes the fact that jealous spiteful folks applaud him and his 3% annual COLA.

    • Was Michael Johnson sucking from the public teat too, before his brain was blown completely out of his skull? Go back to your cubicle you sniveling little worm!

      • Bitter…laid off from the cubical, laid off from telecommuting, replaced by H1b or an overseas call center….we”d be upset too if our skil set was so easily replaced by younger less expensive better educated foreigners.

  4. Who should pay the fine? How about taking it out of the pension fund of those overpaid 1%’s at FPPC .
    We the taxpayers can not afford to spend all our pensions and SSI to bankroll millionaire cops, fire fighters, and public employee’s with property taxs that make 4 or 5 times what the average citizen makes in this valley.
    Contribute to your own pension funds like the rest of us did!

    • City employees put over 20% of their salary into the pension fund. Maybe you should try putting over 20% away and stop whining.

      • Dear Sandman
        I did, the legal limit at the time. Now 40% of my pension goes to pay the $7600 property taxes (actually cheap here) and another 50% $9600 pays for my mandatory Obama care tax.That leave me about $800
        a year to spend any way I want smart ^$$!

  5. Yeah. He’s a piece of work. I’d like to see him try to survive on a city worker’s pension. He wouldn’t know how. He’d go nuts. He’s a selfish politician out for him and his cronies. Just like McHenry back in the day. Steering the redevelopment agency plans to line his pockets. It’s definitely a better place for their efforts…right.

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