Hey, Big Spender: The Shirakawa Receipts

As Santa Clara County struggled to eliminate annual deficits exceeding $200 million over the past four years, board of supervisors president George Shirakawa Jr. rang up more than 250 charges on his county-issued Visa card. These include 186 meals, of which only three were accompanied with itemized receipts, as county rules require.  The county’s top elected official broke the $30 dinner spending limit with steaks that cost as much as $102 each (including tax and tip), violated the ban on alcohol purchases and claimed that his meetings with lobbyists, political consultants and friends were official county business. A regular at taquerias, Chinese restaurants, Italian bistros and rib joints, the board’s runaway frequent diner avoided detection by filing a “missing receipt” declaration more than 180 times. Amazingly, Shirakawa never lost the top copy of the receipt—the one with the tip and total—only the slip that details the number of guests and the items consumed.

Shirakawa is already under investigation by the District Attorney’s political integrity unit and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission after Metro reported that the supervisor broke state law by repeatedly failing to file financial disclosures for his 2008 campaign’s $110,000 in debts.

A new investigation by Metro’s Josh Koehn uncovered more examples of official misconduct by the embattled supervisor, who was re-elected to a four-year term in an unopposed race in June.

Among the revelations that appear in the October 31 issue of the Metro weekly newspaper:

• On at least three occasions, Shirakawa fraudulently declared in a signed statement that “No ALCOHOL was served,” when in fact it was, according to dinner checks obtained by Metro and a statement by San Jose’s police chief.

• Shirakawa has provided the county credit card number to three casinos: Rio Suites casino in Las Vegas, Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln and Harvey’s Casino in Lake Tahoe. Charges at each were paid for by the county and subsequently reversed or reimbursed.

• Shirakawa and his chief of staff, Eddie Garcia, spent three days in San Diego in 2009, staying at the 4-star Marriott Marquis waterfront hotel and driving around San Diego in a Mercury Grand Marquis luxury rental to tour an ambulance service’s facility. Cost to taxpayers: $1,742.

• During the first half of 2012, Shirakawa rented SUVs five times at rates as high as $165 a day, with the average rental $635. One of the rentals was purely personal, and the supervisor reimbursed the county—four months later.

• Most of Shirakawa’s charges sail right past county finance officials. However, in the last two years, Shirakawa has been forced to reimburse the county for 16 rejected charges totaling $4,614.18. These charges included hotel rooms on a Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, a couple of dinners and plane tickets and two golf outings.

• Two weeks after he was elected president of Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors, Shirakawa and Xavier Campos crashed a post-State of the City dinner party that San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore held Feb. 9 with senior SJPD staff at The Grill on the Alley.  Shirakawa pulled out his county-issued Visa card, offered to split the tab and included the $548 charge on his signed February 2012 expense report as “Meet with San Jose Police Chief and Command Staff.” According to Moore, there was no official business to discuss. The purely social dinner was “not a meeting,” Moore says, and included bottles of wine. Moore says he had no idea Shirakawa billed the county for the dinner. The chief sent a letter and $400 check reimbursement to the county Tuesday, according to the SJPD.

• A week later, Shirakawa’s Feb. 17 dinner with Councilman Xavier Campos and Deputy City Manager Noberto Dueñas at P.F. Chang’s included Devil’s Canyon Amber Draft, Stella Artois and a piña colada. See the P.F. Chang’s George Shirakawa charge slip and missing receipt memorandum that Shirakawa submitted—and the actual itemized receipt that he failed to turn in.


  1. Total disregard for rules and regulations and a blatant thumbing of this nose at the county and it’s residents!  His obvious overindulgence is one thing in his personal life but he’s made it a habitual negative effect on taxpayers and HE SHOULD GO!

    He doesn’t file required paperwork for his campaigns regardless of the fact that he is no rookie politician and claims it is oversite.  Now he habitually “loses” the detailed part of the receipt but not the summary part that GETS HIM PAID.  He shows off to the police officers by treating them and lies about the purpose.  He makes reservations and gets reimbursed by County funds for things even when they are personal use (is his personal credit so messed up that he has no other credit card other than the county one to make those reservations??) 

    RECALL THIS LOSER NOW because its obvious that he will never do the RIGHT THING and resign.

    Pay attention San Jose & Santa Clara County.  He is obviously a mentor to Eddie Garcia & Xavier Campos so next time you see their names on a ballot remember where they have “learned” about fleecing the public funds.

    On a side bet, any takers to say Campos is the one who ordered the Pina Colada?

  2. Now I want to see the city of San Jose politician receipts.
    Reeds trip to Japan.
    Licardo’s trip to Ireland.
    Figone’s trip to Ireland.
    Constent’s trips to San Diego.

    It goes on on. Why does the Metro protect these people JK?

    • To the ironically-labelled blogger, “Do Your Homework”: I learned that a blogger suggested there was something untoward about a vacation I took to Ireland, so I thought it’d be helpful to clarify the record.  We paid for my fiancee’s and my trip to Dublin out of our own pockets.  Although trips, events, and meetings like the 2011 Dublin-San Jose Sister City meetings and events are often paid for out of council travel budgets, I paid my own way because of my concern for the City’s severe budgetary constraints.  I earned the money for the trip by saving pay from a political science course that I’d been teaching at San Jose State University.

      • Sam,
        Thank you for having the integrity to post this clarification, and for respecting tax payers money to the point of paying your own way, even though you didn’t have to.

        Unfortunately, many politicians take advantage of the “perks” of the job, and it seems to me that there needs to be a change in policy. Too many electeds abuse tax payers and we’re all sick of it.

        If people really knew how much money Police and Fire took out of their OWN pockets for uniforms, and other vital essentials strictly related to their job, they’d be ashamed of themselves.

        Sam, thank you for all you have done, and continue to do for victims of violent crime and their families. I deeply appreciate it.

      • Obviously, you haven’t be doing your homework lately. Remember back February 2010 during the city study session about the budget deficit. You asked the question, “Can’t we just fire all the city employees today and then just rehire them under a new contract tomorrow.” I think it was the city attorney that respond to your question, “That we be illegal.” For someone that went to law school at Harvard, you must of cut class when the subject of tort law came up.

        However, you showed me your true colors a couple of days right before Christmas last year. I was in full uniform, standing on the sidewalk next to my SJPD patrol car. I was parked about 75 feet from the front entrance to the Santana Row movie theater. I observed you and your fiancé crossing the street at the corner where Mexican restaurant is. You where both dressed in all black, must have coming from a Christmas party. I was going to say something, but I wanted to see what type of leader you really were. You failed. You and your fiancé walked right by me, you did not say a word. You were two feet away from me, you made eye contact with me. But said nothing.

        Yes, I could of said something myself, but I figured a councilman would have said a “Hello,” or a “Happy Holidays,” or maybe a “Merry Christmas” to one of his San Jose Police Officers, but you didn’t. You failed again.

        You showed your true character that night, not by your words, but by your actions. Nobody was watching you but me, a San Jose Police Officer.

        • Really?  The guy is out for the evening and you expect him to say hi to every police officer he walks by?  I’m sorry, I have all the respect in the world for first responders, but that is a bit much.  On top of that, you judge his entire character based on this?    I don’t buy it.  I can think of a hundred reasons why he didn’t say ‘hi’, and none of them has to do with his character or even city council policy decisions.

        • Any leader also knows a hundred reasons why he should have acknowledged an officer with whom he makes eye contact in a community setting.
          But you would have to be a leader to know this too.

        • He is a public official and is held to a higher standard. Just because he does not wear a uniform and people don’t recognize him,  it doesn’t give him the excuse to walk by another public official in full uniform and not say anything. I know what he looks like, I knew it was him, it’s my job to know.

          Second, I was the only police officer in the area. He was two feet away from me. I could have reached out and touched him, without moving, as he walked right by me.

          I’m sure if I was person who gave a large amount of money to one of his campaign’s, I would have gotten a hug and a kiss.

          What’s the old saying, you never get a second chance, to make a first impression.

          That night, as I walked around Santana Row, citizens from all walks of life came up to me and wished me happy holidays. Citizens asked me to be safe and appreciated my service and they even shook my hand and a couple patted me on my back.

          He could of changed one person’s perception of himself, but he did not make an effort.
          Why? Because he does not care about me. He has publicly gone after police officers during council meetings and in the media. He could of put his differences aside for 5
          seconds, but he didn’t. He failed me, not only as leader, but as person who has elected by the citizens of San Jose and has taken an oath of office, he failed the people he represents.

          Norman, he failed that and he knows it. No more excuses.

      • Hello, hello, Sam you there? Bad connection I guess. I guess you answer question that are only convenient for you.

        Next time, don’t poke a stick at somebody unless you know the won’t fight back.

    • Why am I not surprised by this response?  Is the party line for the Mexican Mafia that others do it so we should be able to do it too? 

      Is this where Chief of Staff Eddie Garcia comes in and cries that its racism to point out Shirakawa’s ILLEGAL and IMMORAL actions because other people might also be doing wrong?  How about a little personal responsibility and stop blaming the Metro or SJ Merc for telling the story.  If Shirakawa and the rest don’t want their names muddied in the public, how about they STOP ENGAGING IN RECKLESS AND ILLEGAL ACTIVITY AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE?

  3. Shirakawa is a shameless, gluttonous pig!  Spending our hard-earned tax dollars as if he is royalty.  I agree with Aware D5, he should be recalled ASAP.  Regarding the fraud charges, he should be tried and punished, perhaps six months in jail would be good for him.  Were I Campos or Dueñas, I’d be very careful of the company I keep.  Oh, and Measure A has gone up in flames for me!

  4. I think that Supervisor is showing the kind of visionary and creative leadership that we need in Sacramento.  Perhaps he could run for statewide office (Controller?) or maybe start small with State Assembly or State Senate.  I hope to one day see him serving in Washington DC.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *