Complaint Alleges Liccardo Hid Campaign Contribution; Nguyen Defends Providing Email List

A complaint filed against Sam Liccardo’s mayoral campaign alleges the San Jose council member violated election law by failing to report an in-kind contribution for the second time.

On Oct. 1, Liccardo’s campaign sent a mass email to supporters. The bottom of that message indicated that the contact list came from Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, according to union activist Carol Garvey, who reportedly filed the complaint earlier this week. (The day and date on her letter do not match.)

The Fair Political Practices Commission has said such mailing lists constitute an in-kind contribution at fair-market value, Garvey wrote, meaning Nguyen's list should cost the campaign as much as a similar list would on the open market.

Garvey, who earlier this year was recognized for her work as a union activist, estimates that the fair market value of such a list exceeds $1,100—the contribution cap in municipal elections. But Liccardo never noted such a contribution on his 460 forms, Garvey says, which could violate both the contribution limit and the reporting requirement.

A complaint filed against Liccardo earlier in the year led to an investigation by the Ethics Committee, which cleared him of any wrongdoing except for receiving an in-kind contribution that was not listed due to an "oversight."

Garvey finished her letter by stating that "the email’s message references San Jose City Hall," which would violate the city election code’s ban on using public resources to promote a campaign.

Reached for comment Friday afternoon, Nguyen called the inclusion of her work address a simple mistake. The vice mayor, who finished third in the June primary behind Liccardo and county Supervisor Dave Cortese, said her former campaign manager, Eddie Truong, used the free MailChimp email service to send a letter to her personal friends and supporters on Liccardo's behalf, and an address was required. Truong did not want to include her home address, Nguyen said, so he provided the address of City Hall.

"[Garvey] assumed that we were using our work email distribution list, but, no, we don’t do that," Nguyen said. "I’ve been doing this too long. I know the rules."

Nguyen said "probably about 500" people received the email and she sent Truong a note "right away," letting him know he shouldn't have used the City Hall address. Truong now works for Chappie Jones' District 1 council campaign.

Nguyen said she does not consider the email list she provided to Liccardo an in-kind contribution, because the email service is free.

Liccardo's campaign manager, Ragan Henninger, called the complaint "baseless and without any merit."

She added, "Madison used a free email service and it was to her personal contacts list. It wasn’t a a voter file that you pay for."

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


  1. Can probably add Oliverio, Constant and Reed to the complaint since I have emailed all three and have received Liccardo emails and Ragan H emails in triplicate.

  2. When “Political lightening,” in the form of an “In-kind contribution” strikes once, it is easy and perhaps reasonable to publically pass-off the incident as a “Mistake.”

    But, when the same “In-kind contribution” lightning-bolt finds the same political backside the second time, maybe the “Mistake” is within the responsibility of the Campaign Manager of Councilmember Liccardo – (who should not have allowed either of the two lightning bolts to find the “Bull’s-eye” on the royal rump).

    Personally, I am concerned that the San José Mercury News and the San José Inside hasn’t blamed the Cortese Campaign for the second “In-kind contribution” accepted by the Liccardo camp. It appears both the aforementioned news organizations are “Off- their-feed” and might be feeling a tad-bit poorly.

    I guess too much Halloween candy is to blame.

    David S. Wall

  3. I want to ask Liccardo about the Licking v. City of San Jose settlement for the sliver of land for he paid our tax dollars, $2,095,000. Sam’s district has a rehab center on a sliver of land across from a community park located in a $500,000.00 neighborhood. The owner wanted to expand the drug rehab business ( a dentist who works and lives in Sunnyvale, the value of the land bombed after he bought it a few years ago) and the residents don’t. Now Sam’s an attorney and knows he can’t discriminate against his friend but votes to block expansion. The dentist sues for discrimination and the City Attorney throws in the towel early even though we have a $30,000,000.00 budget and 95 attorneys. What a great settlement. Did the City buy the land and make everyone happy by closing the Narco center, no not at all. The City says they needed the land for a train stop for fans to get to the never to be built baseball stadium. So they gave the guy with the worthless sliver of land $2,095,000, he gets to keep his portable buildings and operate his business with expansion by leasing back the whole shot for $1.00 a year until the Stadium is built, which will be never.

    We won’t even discuss Liccardo when he was a ADA with Jeff Rosen the rapist prosecutor extraordinary, Prosecuted alleged child molesters after filming exams of children ( many were just girlfriends or ex wives looking for revenge). Never used the tapes because everyone who saw them said the suspects were exonerated by them so he and Rosen hid them. Sadly, it appears that a doctor involved had to resign and almost got prosecuted when expert doctors said the molestation investigating doctor was molesting the children with his exams. Yea, that’s who you want for Mayor. One guy got exonerated and paid a million dollars and their quietly releasing many others from jail and will settle out of court.

    Liccardo, City attorney Doyle and Master Promisor Jeff Rosen. When I was a kid I used to go to the movies to see their comedy short films, oh yea that was the THREE somethings.

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