Lawsuit Victory Allows Cortese to Opt out of Spending Cap

Dave Cortese's isn't too proud to play the game.

On the same day his campaign suffered a blow, firing spokesman Jay Reed following San Jose Inside's report of sexist tweets, the San Jose mayoral candidate withstood a legal challenge by the City Clerk to join Sam Liccardo in opting out of the voluntary expenditure limit.

Just last month, Liccardo took a bold step in forgoing the spending cap so he could spend an unlimited amount of dollars in the runoff. At the risk of turning off voters who think money has too large an influence on politics, he filed a Form 500 stating his intent to sidestep the spending cap the day after the June 3 primary, according to City Clerk Toni Taber.

Liccardo's campaign manager, Ragan Henninger, told San Jose Inside the decision was made to overcome "what we expect to be millions of contributions to our opponent through various special interests—card clubs, marijuana dispensaries and unions."

Both Liccardo and Cortese accepted the cap in the primary, and the latter put out a bristling statement July 10 objecting to Liccardo's decision to opt for the runoff.

“Well over a million dollars was spent between Sam and the superPAC of conservative CEOs supporting him in the primary,” Cortese said last month. “We’re surprised that he is trying to turn back decades of local campaign finance reform by refusing the spending cap. In my opinion, we need less money in politics, not more.”

Apparently, that "opinion" didn't last long.

On June 17, Cortese filed a Form 500 stating he would stay under the spending cap. But more than a month later, July 25, he filed an amended Form 500 declaring his intent to opt out. Taber's office filed a lawsuit as a result, noting that campaign law requires the form to be filed within 14 days of the primary.

A lawsuit was filed—(we will update the post when we have the decision)—and a judge ruled Cortese's camp could proceed in opting out of the spending cap. Cortese told San Jose Inside in a text message Wednesday afternoon that he was not free to talk about his decision to opt out of the cap, just minutes after a previous text noted that his campaign spokesman no longer worked for the campaign.

Liccardo did not immediately respond to a text for comment.

This year's mayor's race has long been expected to be the most expensive in San Jose history. Just through June 30, Cortese and Liccardo's personal campaigns combined to spend more than $1.4 million.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Dave Cortese's campaign filed the legal challenge. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

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


  1. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander Josh.

    Everyone makes mistakes, but nothing he’s done has been nearly as detrimental to San Jose as chasing away our police force. Ryan Viri? Did you know him Josh? Doorman at Johnny V’s? I have no doubt there would have been a life saved that night if we had the police to handle downtown.Atul Lall, surely you know him. We even spoke on the phone about that one. Those scumbags that hurt/killed these guys would have been run out of town by a 90’s-early 2000’s era SJPD.

    Ya dude, I know it’s your job to write this vitriol but really give it some thought about how bad things are now. St James park is disgusting. So is The Jungle. These are all things that have appeared under the reign of Reed, with Sam as protegee.

    Maybe you’re just too young to remember. Maybe that extra 10 or so years in age I got on you gives me a broader perspective on how it what, and what it has become.

    • Really Robert? Sounds like it was not a mistake but a change of mind. Just say it. Cortese can’t make a decision & is a hypocrite. He should apologize to Mayor Sam!

      • Wow sam making a comment today in the Mercy news that dave may (indirectly) have be responsible for the theft of his briefcase and city computer. How low can we go. Sam, tell us what jokes were on your city computer which you left unattended.

    • Seriously? I’m not sure how you connect the dots sometimes. I know Dave is your cousin, but blindly defending him doesn’t do you any good.

      • Jean and Insideman.

        There is one reason, above all others that my cousin has my undying support. Because he is family. You are welcome to have your opinion of that. Personally I think it’d be neat for the entire family to be able to say, “That’s our cousin/brother/son/uncle as mayor”

        Not to mention, he would be much better at it than Sam.

        • Xavier Campos is probably thinking the same way…with his inability to know how to vote he cost a decent person, Hope Cahan a spot on the Planning Commission…The X-Man prob thinks there is a mayoral pardon he can be given from Cortese should he be elected.

    • Robert,your understanding of public safety is superficial. Can you explain to me why we don’t have a 90’s era SJPD, despite the fact that we spend more then fifty percent on policing than we did a dozen years ago? It’s because your cousin promised benefits to SJPD that the city couldn’t keep and then made Councilmember Liccardo and 70% of San Jose to be the bad guys when they voted to avert a municipal bankruptcy. Jim Unland lied to his union members about the disability portion of Measure B. He held job fairs to intentionally encourage his officers to relocate to neighboring cities. Now you’re telling us to hand the keys back to the guy who drove it into the ditch?

      • CARTHAGUS Aug 6, 2014 @ 10:19 pm
        Robert,your understanding of public safety is superficial.

        Orly u?

        It’s a pretty superficial thing to understand. You cut funds to a service, the service eventually degrades.

        Deeper though. Our population spiked from the 80’s till about 2005. Of course Dave would have to increase the safety budget! What, should we have the same number of police at 1,000,000 residents that we had at 100,000 residents?

        Don’t lecture me how I don’t know, I know damn well. I know when I was 5 or 8 in the 70’s, I could run through the streets of San Jose without worry. Now I can’t let my 5 or my 8 year old kids out by themselves.

        • If it’s all about a correlation between staff and funding, why don’t we have a fifty percent larger police force if we spend fifty percent more? It’s not all about throwing money at a problem. That’s Cortese’s only policy idea- throw more money at it.

          • is it costing us more now for less because of the forced overtime…..would have been nice if the negotiating table would have netted some results instead of forced implementation by playing on voters fears of a collapsed economy…..San Jose – the only city that is missing the boat on Californias resurgence!!

      • Speaking of superficial… go research inflation. Also, our last recession necessitated higher payments into certain employee funds- per contract. Look that up too. In summary, pretty much everything costs 30-50% more after the last 12 years, from gas to milk to your electricity. Employees in every sector (public and private) cost more than they did a dozen years ago.

      • Robert’s cousin promised the exact same benefits to SJPD that Chuck Reed and many other (nearly ALL) Councilmembers at the time promised – so if there is blame then there is plenty to go around.

        What “lie” exactly did Unland tell about the disability portion of Measure B?

        Just to be clear: “70% of San Jose” was really only “70% of the 22% of registered voters in San Jose who turned out to vote.

        SJPOA hosted ONE job fair that was to assist officers who had been laid off by the City of San Jose.

        What did the City do to assist the employees that it laid off find employment? (the same employees – at least police employees – that voted as a whole to give back 10% of their salary after the City promised the pay cut would prevent lay offs at the PD AND that the cuts would be temporary (2 years).

        The Ditch? RDA and Airport Debt are into the BILLIONS much of which was approved by the CURRENT Mayor and Council who WERE the Chair and Board of Directors for the RDA.

        • RDA and Airport debt , Both Chaired and Pushed by Reed amount to roughly $7 Billion dollars ! but according to Reed it is the $230 Million dollar pension fund , that is killing San Jose. The only thing killing San Jose is Reed , Liccardo , Constant , Nguyen , Hererra, Oliverio ,

      • Jim Unland did not lie about the disability portion of Measure B. It is so substandard and flawed, that the buffoon of a Mayor and Liccardo were suppose to present a fix for this next ballot, but failed to come up with anything adequate. Liccardo also voted to give $25 million worth of land to the owner of the A’s, for a ballpark that will never be built. Oh, and have you ever heard of inflation? Almost everything costs 50% more than it did a decade ago, especially around here, including rent and the price of a house. Liccardo is a tool.

        • Observation, if you want to get your point across more effectively I suggest you avoid speaking in the third person. :-)

          • How about if we just stay on topic rather than stoop to criticism over the writing style. I am sure I could look at your past comments and do the same, but if grammar is the best I have to respond to your comment, then It makes me look silly. It is hard to take somebody seriously who resorts to critiquing grammar.

        • Observation, Jate, Meyer, thanks for being the Calvary, and while it might not be an “official” concede by SJI/Metro, it would appear they’ve decided to change the sort order/highlight article.

          Metro/SJI I hope you guys took my comment to heart. We’ve had some pretty hefty losses under this regime, and it’s time to hand San Jose back to those that care. We might not always agree with each other, my cousin and I might not always agree with each other, you and my cousin might not always agree, but I think these are things we can all agree on.

          Vote Cortese. Don’t let this city become a latrine ditch that I’m forced to move away from.

          • Robert, You really think likening San Jose under an administration that is not under your cousin’s control to a latrine ditch is really appropriate.

            You really think the re-election of Xavier Campos to City Council (an effort your cousin Dave endorsed) would have cleaned up the city?!?!?!?!

            If your cousin really wanted to keep the city from descending into a latrine ditch as you call it, then why does he surround himself with corrupt hacks like Campos???? Actions speak louder than words and his actions have people questioning his sincerity in cleaning up San Jose.

          • @SJC… people do you mean you and you? CAMPOS CAMPOS CAMPOS lol you must be that person i saw the other day driving by oakridge….flipping off somebody….anybody….lol old man mad at the world!!

          • Wow and Anthony makes his return to SJI in epic fashion…you were gone from this blog as long as Cortese’s press guy had worked for him…hmmmm. welcome back – sorry things didnt work out between you and cortese’s campaign

          • well i have some time time to waste but not alot lol unlike you SJC….you can practically be considered a squatter here on SJI blog board…..ya i know some people don’t have a life. CAMPOS CAMPOS CAMPOS lol and another thing CAMPOS hahaha how’s that for epic….now you are even calling me a reed lol teabaggers are hilarious

      • This is worth highlighting because it is Cortese, Gonzalez, Chavez, Campos, Shirakawa and all those other blind vote for it at all cost Labor supporters that put SJ on the path to destruction it is on now. They can keep singing that same old tune that Reed and the rest of the council are anti police and anti safety and anti worker but reasonable people know that budget decisions made one day will have a lasting impact. The gravy days ended folks and while the city residents supported the unions whole heartedly in the prosperous times there HAD to be adjustments in the lean times and you refusted to accept them. A bankrupt crime filled city is bad for everyone but the Upland and Chavez and now Cortese act like the Republicans in congress they’d rather burn down the city just so they can claim that they’re the ones who rebuilt it. Shame on them.

        • man talk about spin…..the tebaggers speak and nobody is listening……another loss for the teabaggers….path to irrelevency which is fine by me……where’s the birth certificate

      • No its because the City took Holidays in NOT paying into the system , when things were good . then just continued to postpone payments until absolutely the last possible second. Where was your outrage when SJPD was poaching Officers from other agencies? At one point SJPD was the place to be , Now it is the place to be From ! Unlands loyalty is to his membership . You can try and defend measure B all you like , but the bottom line is San Jose has lost Millions of dollars in training fee’s ( for officers that have left) . and that is a direct result of measure . They are leaving because they are better paid and benefitted just about anywhere other than San Jose . the Mass exodus will continue

  2. JK,

    Would you be so kind as to compile all of the form 460’s for both Sam and Dave’s campaigns and make them public for everyone to see?

      • In order to find out who paid 79,000 dollars for Carrasco, you have to go to the Secretary of State website. Hey, Maggie, how come we can find out about all the other candidates except you. You got a warning letter about that, right?

  3. THe header on this story uses “allows”, which implies that Cortese won the lawsuit. The body of the article indicates there has been no decision. Therefore, your header is highly misleading. How about “would allow”, Josh?
    If you reported accurately (not a given, considering your misleading header) that the law requires the form 500 to be filed within 14 days of the primary, it seems perfectly clear that Cortese cannot prevail.

    • I believe that Cortese was declared the victor, but the judge’s decision has not been made public- which seems awfully strange, considering the point you just made about how cut-and-dry the law is.