Most of 49ers Money for Chavez Is Spent, Future Aid Uncertain

Two years ago, Jed York and the San Francisco 49ers jolted local electoral politics by spending nearly $3 million to back a slate of Santa Clara City Council candidates and a measure to replace at-large council voting with district representation.

Both efforts were successful – three of four council candidates were upset winners and council districts were established – prompting national news website Politico to dub Santa Clara, home of the 49ers Levi’s Stadium since 2014, “Yorkville.”

York’s family owns 90% of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, which Forbes says is the league’s fifth-richest franchise.

Then this spring, another local political action committee was created, this time to support Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez in her primary campaign for mayor of San Jose, with nearly all of the money – $300,000 – donated by the Forty Niners Football Company.

As the general election campaigns heat up in San Jose and Santa Clara, there are no signs yet that the team will shell out money to defeat incumbent Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor or to replenish its Chavez PAC’s coffers to aid her battle against Councilmember Matt Mahan.

There’s less than $32,000 left in the 49ers war chest for Chavez, since $268,413 was spent in a bruising primary battle that left the supervisor as the top vote-getter.

The Chavez campaign spent nearly $887,000 in the primary, plus more than $700,000 from PACs including the 49ers. On Aug. 1, she reported a campaign balance of $293,995, as of June 30.

The Mahan campaign spent approximately $922,000 in the primary, with a remaining June 30 balance of $271,449, according to his Aug. 1 filing. His major PAC, Common Good Silicon Valley, sponsored by Solutions Silicon Valley, spent about $360,000 on his primary campaign.

The Chavez campaign and the 49ers declined any comment on whether they expect “Citizens for Cindy Chavez, Mayor 2022, sponsored by and with major funding from DeBartolo Corporation & Affiliated Entities, incl. Forty Niners Football Company, LLC” to receive any more football money in the campaign’s final 10-week sprint.

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., head of the DeBartolo enterprises in Ohio and Florida, sold ownership of the 49ers, which his father bought in 1977, after Eddie Jr.’s 1998 conviction in a gambling scandal. Ownership of the team shifted to his sister, Denise, and her husband, John York; their son Jed is now team president.

The 49ers organization has not responded to questions about whether there will be a 2022 version of 2020’s “Citizens for Efficient Government and Full Voting Rights…, sponsored by John Edward (Jed) York” and funded by York and the Forty Niners Football Company in Santa Clara.

Gillmor has been at odds with the 49ers, in court and in Santa Clara, over Levi’s Stadium management, and with the new council majority, which, over her objections, fired the city manager and city attorney, both stridently anti-49er.

Former Santa Clara mayor Pat Mahan, who was one of three designated principals of the 2020 49ers PAC – along with former Santa Clara police chief Mike Sellers and former congressman Mike Honda – told San Jose Inside she has heard nothing about a new 49ers-backed PAC this year to help defeat Gillmor, as it had her council allies in 2020.

The 2020 PAC in Santa Clara was formed and funded with $2.99 million just six weeks before the general election. The 2022 PAC in San Jose was formed and fully funded two months before the June primary.

Mahan (no relation to the San Jose mayoral candidate) said she is endorsing Gillmor’s opponent, Councilmember Anthony Becker, and credits the new council majority with removing what Mahan called a “toxic environment” created by former City Manager Deanna Santana and supported by Gillmor and the previous council majority. Becker was one of the four council candidates in 2020 that benefitted from the 49er PAC.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. Plans are underway for the 49ers to spend millions of dollars. Suds Jain runs Anthony Becker. Axial Media handled their campaigns in 2020 and also handled Chavez. Mahan, Sellers, Jain have already signed off on three mailers. The focus will be on Gillmor as a business person and as a mayor. Three phone polls from EMC blanketed Santa Clara. This time Jain and others will also contribute money. Jain favors running the committee himself and getting the 49ers to contribute to it in order to create the impression that it is a Santa Clara committee. Ed McGovern is in favor of that idea as is Mahan. Hence, the quiet.

  2. 2020
    Mike Honda writes the 49ers, spend millions in Santa Clara, Secure Minority Council Members


    Suds Jain, Anthony Becker, Kevin Park Habir Batia, well too much money from Sajeev, the Bernie Madoff of the South Bay. Now she is raising money for Becker

    No relation to 49ers, right?

    First thing Suds Jain is call Rahul Chandhok. Not Mike Honda.

    Time for us to meet. I am bringing Park and Becker.

    Hmm, wonder why?

    Next item FIRE DOYLE, Next item FIRE SANTANA Next item, relax Curfew, next item, free game passes

    Honda objectives???????


    Get Gillmor. Use the Brian Exline suit, though he lost. Use “toxic environment” Use lawsuit settlement offer for 3 percent of actual amount.

    Wow, no wonder Jain creates robots, he and Becker function as robots.

  3. I have had a lot clients in Santa Clara as I have a gardening business with my brother in law who lives there. Every month, he and his second wife let me stay over, but they watch the City Council meetings on their computer while having snacks. I watched the meeting and I am surprised Mayor Gillmor let this guy Becker rant for 20 minutes about having the city get a new sign for the 49ers.

    Confession time, I used to do grounds work at some school sites and I did always like what I heard about the Gillmors, especially from the teachers who had kids in soccer.

    Becker loves to hear his voice. Over and .over about the value of the 49ers.

    I go to a lot of games. Been a fan since Dwight Clark.

    But they are a team, not a precious gem.

    Gillmor maybe fierce, but it is about money, and Santa Clara did spend a lot.

  4. Is it really true that Suds Jain has an open committee which he can use to distribute money to Becker for Mayor 2022??

    Phone poll results showed a bad reaction of the public for a new Citizens committee or a county committee to form to support Chavez and Becker.

  5. What is troubling to most women I know is Becker’s history of berating seniors when they address the council and long history of comments about his female colleagues.

  6. What Mr. Holtzclaw’s meandering piece avoids is naming the scandal that is the political system that institutionalizes the interests of the propertied classes ahead and above the public interest. Both the constellation of 49er-alligned politicians and the “legacy” Gillmor-alligned coalition of politicians, real estate interests and the Santa Clara police union ultimately represent different factions of wealth owners and their sectional priorities.

    The first group is headed by recent immigrants to Santa Clara (here I am referring to York and company–not the most-recently elected council members) while the second consists of long-time residents who are used to running–and feel entitled to run–local affairs. The current battle between Becker and Gillmor for the mayor’s seat is the culmination of a conflict whose seeds were planted about a decade ago (

    From the point of view of Santa Clara residents, and in a very real way, this battle has serious consequences for the use of the city’s considerable resources and, crucially, what portion of existing and potential city resources will be dedicated to public goods and services and what portion will end up on the bottom line of the 49er organization’s balance sheet. Either way, propertied interests will continue to hold sway over city government in Santa Clara. The same goes for San Jose whether Chavez or Mahan prevails. That is the real story that Mr. Hotzclaw’s piece obscures.

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