Family Health Fiasco: Cindy Chavez Wanted to Sue Metro

County supervisor candidate and labor organizer Cindy Chavez has not always been the most enthusiastic fan of San Jose Inside and Metro‘s coverage of local politics. In fact, she was so perturbed by a report in March about the political activities of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, of which she was a board member, that she suggested a lawsuit.

On March 19, Chris Wilder, CEO of the VMC Foundation, sent a letter to Metro demanding a retraction, after an article reported that funds from the Health Foundation and VMC Foundation laundered through a Measure A campaign committee wound up in the hands of South Bay Labor Council consultants and campaign funds that concurrently managed other candidates and campaigns. There was no retraction.

Wilder then had eight other local nonprofit foundation executives sign on to a letter stating that Metro and San Jose Inside’s reporting was “bad for free speech.” They made no mention of Kathleen King and the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, which has now clearly been exposed as a political entity working hand in hand with Chavez, the tax-exempt pseudo-think thank Working Partnerships USA and the South Bay Labor Council.

In an email to some of his board members, Wilder says he wrote the letter to Metro “reluctantly,” at the urging of Mercury News reporter Tracy Seipel. If he didn’t send the letter, Seipel allegedly told Wilder, the story would not “die a quick death,” Wilder wrote.

It appears Wilder then forwarded the email to Chavez, adding: “I have nothing better to do.”

A day later, Cindy Chavez—not noted as a recipient in the earlier email—replied to Wilder and King: “Let’s sue them.”

While the Health Foundation would later sue the county to keep Metro and San Jose Inside from obtaining internal emails, board minutes and agendas through a Public Records Act request, Chavez and the foundation have yet to follow through on her above mentioned suggestion to litigate against Metro.

Less than a month after those emails, on April 12, Chavez sent a brief email to Health Foundation chair Dana Ditmore, King and Wilder stating: “I am resigning from the board in order to run for the Board of Supervisors. Keep up the amazing work!”

When King asked Chavez in a reply message if she would like to “write up something short and sweet (a little longer than your earlier message) to send out to the full board,” Chavez replied: “No but thanks.”

Chavez’s departure from the Health Foundation board is now reflected on the organization’s website.

“Family Health Fiasco” is a series based on public documents released May 17, 2013, after a court decision by Judge Carol Overton. The documents shed light on how the South Bay Labor Council interacts with local nonprofits and government agencies. Click to read more about the coordinated campaign activities between the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation and local labor leaders.


  1. She could sue James Rowen.  James Rowen just settled with Anthony Macias.

    How’s that lawsuit going metro?  Why the no-show?  Lawsuits for libel, this comment is ontopic.

  2. SJI – Thank you for your coverage of this issue.
    And thanks for the CPRA request so that we the SC County taxpayers can find out what’s going on behind the scenes.

    All of the behind the scenes transfers of public money into a non-profit which then transferred money to political organizations which campaigned to raise our taxes should make SC County taxpayers incredibly skeptical the next time our county government asks us to vote on a tax increase.

    • Totally against any additional county tax increases until they show some actual leadership and accountability for their use of the current funds.  I refuse to pay an additional dime into what they think are their personal piggy banks.

      I’d suggest people withhold their donations from the non-profit health foundation too.  The money that should be going to health care for seniors and children is being squandered on personal political aspirations.

  3. Also lost in all of this is the fact that Tracy Seipel, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, got involved in this story by contacting the CEO of the VMC Foundation to offer advice.

    Tracy made it clear that NOT asking for a retraction would mean that we condone what they wrote.  Tracy needs to know that we did this BEFORE a second article comes out by the Metro.

    Here’s the Bay Area News Group Ethics Policy:

    In its PREAMBLE:

    None of us should act in ways that could damage the newspaper’s credibility.

    You would think that after the Marshman candidate tampering fiasco, they’d learn.

  4. Who is Silicon Valley Newsroom… someone obviously is anti Chavez.  But SHAME SHAME SHAME on San Jose Inside for letting someone post we as the reader do not even know who is doing the writing.

    • Funny I don’t see SJI reporting as anti-Chavez so much as it is anti-corruption.  It just appears to be emerging FACT that Chavez, Shirakawa, Campos and all these others are guilty of shady deals.  They bend rules to the near breaking point, cross lines knowingly then try to laugh it off or claim they either didn’t know or had good intentions. 

      Or maybe its that they’re all Raider fans. 

      Don’t support the corruption Smokey you’re geting confused by shooting the messenger.  The bottom line is even if someone had a grudge against the corrupt camp of the Mexican Mafia, the truth is the truth and they’re guilty of breaking laws, skirting issues and being devious about trying to mislead donors and the public.  Silicon Valley Newsroom reporters aren’t making them do that.

      • In fact you can get more info about David wall on the Internet then the fictitious Silicon Valley newsroom . And Mr Wall knows more about the political climate and who the crooks are then anyone.

        • No argument there.  Mr Wall is always sort of front and center at public meetings too.  No question of who he is and what is important to him.

          I do have a question for you Smokey (and by your name I’m guessing you’re a firefighter).  Is there a plan that the fire department personnel (and police and city workers) have besides the lawsuits challenging the Mayor’s pension reform?  It seems like that might end in the union workers favor but is there some other and productive way that citizens who are registered voters in SJ and who support the city workers and police and fire could actually let that be known?  Letters to the Mayor and council has been suggested but how effective is that?  I am very concerned with the declining morale of the city workers but equally concerned about the amount of corruption and blatant disregard for law that ALL of the council and elected officals seem to have.  Reed is no champion of the people for sure but when backed up against the camp of Shirakawa, Chavez, Campos et al it feels like a losing battle.

    • “SHAME SHAME SHAME on San Jose Inside for letting someone post we as the reader do not even know who is doing the writing.”

      A great quote from a cop (we all know from Cannon Ball Run that smokey the bear means cop) who continually posts without using his real name!

      What a hypocrite!

  5. So Cindy Chavez causes all this trouble for the Health Foundation; sends her “letter of resignation” as a reply to an unrelated e-mail to a few of the leaders of the Foundation; and then when asked if she could send a resignation letter to the full board, she replies, “No but thanks”?

    Not to be crude, but this sounds a bit like the “4Fs”, that guys used to joke about when I was younger.

    Health Foundation, you need to learn about the “4Fs”, because that’s what Chavez did to you.

    • I thought the same thing.  It’s not really surprising though because its very similar to the MO that the Mexican Mafia used with Xavier Campos when he was COO of MACSA and they came under investigation for embezzlement and theft of the million dollars from teachers & staff pension funds.  He quickly left as investigators closed in on the key staff and went to be sheltered by the Felon Gluttonous George Shirakawa.  Campos was shielded in Shirakawa’s office enjoying free trips and money illegally paid for by donations and county funds until he ran his own Chavez backed race for city council. 

      Chavez used her thug in a pantsuit tactics to manipulate the use of Health Foundation money for coordinated political campaigns (shady at best, probably illegal, only time and the completed investigations will tell) then skates out the door when she decides she wants shamed and now convicted felon Shirakawa’s seat.  Her advice to “sue them” was directed at the Metro but ended up a suit against the county.  The COUNTY.  The very county that she promises to provide ethical leadership for.

      I swear every single one of those people in that little corrupt group live in an alternative universe where there are no ethics, no morals, no care for public funds and absolutely no accountability for their actions.


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