San Jose Council Candidate Pam Foley Condemns SVO’s Attacks on D9 Opponent Kalen Gallagher

A San Jose City Council candidate has denounced a political action committee’s attacks on her opponent as “horrible” and “seriously off track” with her own commitment to run a positive campaign.

San Jose Unified School District trustee Pam Foley—who’s running against Kalen Gallagher for Councilman Don Rocha’s District 9 seat—held a press conference on Monday to distance herself from Silicon Valley Organization (SVO) PAC mailers that used doctored photos and mischaracterizations about her rival’s voting record to cast him in a negative light.

“Over the course of a week or so, four attack ad mailers were received in the mailboxes of District 9 voters,” Foley said from a podium outside City Hall flanked by business-friendly council allies Dev Davis, Chappie Jones and Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Frankly, I hope that’s the end of it. Two were bad enough—but four? That is ridiculous and extremely disappointing.”

Though Foley said she’s honored to be endorsed by the SVO PAC, she stressed that she had nothing to do with the ads and that state election laws prohibit candidates from coordinating with independent committees.

“I have not had, nor could I legally have had, any involvement with anyone at the SVO regarding these mailers,” she said. “It would have been a violation of campaign law.”

The mailers authorized by the SVO’s independent expenditure committee use half-truths to accuse Gallagher of misspending taxpayer money, breaking tax law and carpetbagging. The most alarming one features a touched-up photo that makes it look like Gallagher’s flipping off the camera. In the original image pulled from his Instagram account, he’s pointing to an “I voted” sticker on his chest. In the photoshopped version, the sticker’s gone and the image is cropped to make his forefinger look like a middle finger.


Gallagher posted a point-by-point takedown of the hit pieces on his campaign website, which you can read here. The Campbell Union High School District trustee who advanced to the runoff without institutional support from labor groups or the business community took the opportunity to tout his independence and condemn the tactics of special interest groups like the SVO.

“In the primary election, these special interest groups spent over $225,0000 for our opponent,” he wrote. “They are planning on spending another $400,000 in the general election. They are truly frightened that we are going to win despite refusing to sign their loyalty application or accepting their money. Because of this, they are hoping that they can make up things about me and our campaign and that voters won’t see through it.”

San Jose attorney Chris Schumb, who was quoted on one of the SVO PAC mailers as calling Gallagher “incompetent” and “corrupt,” said he was appalled that his words were taken completely out of context.

“I wasn’t even talking about Kalen,” said Schumb, who asked the SVO committee for a retraction. “He’s a nice guy. He’s one of the last guys I would ever say something about like that. I happen to be a Pam supporter, but I’m very upset that my name was used to say such nasty things about a guy who’s a highly effective board member and a highly ethical person.”

At Monday’s presser, Foley said she understands Gallagher’s frustration, which is why she felt compelled to issue a public statement condemning the ads. During the primary, San Jose’s police union targeted Foley with misleading claims that she believes cost her hundreds of votes.

“I didn’t like being the victim of two such attacks in the primary and I don’t like them being used against my opponent,” she said. “They are appalling and a strategy that I do not support. I wish they would stop.”

Mayor Liccardo, who’s backing Foley in the D9 race and has enjoyed support from the SVO in every one of his campaigns, commended her for taking a stand.

“We recognize that maybe the modus operandi for national politics and maybe in other cities, but it has no place here in San Jose,” he said. “I’m grateful that Pam Foley has the integrity to stand up and say, ‘Not in my campaign.’ Obviously, voters need to know that she has nothing to do with these kinds of attack ads.”

SVO officials, who declined to answer questions about who authorized the mailers, dismissed the criticism and defended the ads.

“Kalen Gallagher's past history in office is fair game and an indication of what he will do in the future,” SVO Director of Government and Community Relations Eddie Truong said in an emailed statement. “All of the information shared about Gallagher’s record is true. He has tried to explain them, but has never shown any of them to be untrue. He can complain about a picture, but this is really just a distraction from the fact that he has a terrible record of public service.”

This article has been updated to include statements from the SVO spokesman Eddie Truong and attorney Chris Schumb.

Pam Foley addressed a small gathering of business leaders and political allies—San Jose council members Johnny Khamis, Dev Davis and Chappie Jones and Mayor Sam Liccardo—at Monday's press conference. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Pam Foley, I misjudged you, you are a great person with guts
    You are an asset to the city.

    Gee, is there a Beatles song, Hey, something
    There is a clue for Gallagher.

  2. These mailers are horrible and should be against the law. I am NOT voting for Foley, but I am happy to see her take a stand against these abusive, lying mailers.

  3. So this is exactly what happened when they endorsed Pat Waite and ran attack mail on Joshua Barousse. Is that the only other time this has happened?

    You have to wonder if it’s a strategy: attack an opponent so viciously that you give your candidate an opportunity to look good disavowing you. It would actually be a very effective strategy. I doubt a significant majority of the electorate has a clear enough understanding of local political organizations to be able to hold the SVO accountable for, or even associate then with, past behavior. It was easier when they were the Chamber, but even the name Silicon Valley Organization is just so amorphous and generic. So it seems like a win-win-win, to me: harm the opponent, boost the candidate, and pay little price. Unless they are paying a price that’s not apparent? Doesn’t seem like it, just based on the fact that they aren’t behaving any more carefully.

  4. “Though Foley said she’s honored to be endorsed by the SVO PAC” Them, Chuck Reed, Madison Nguyen, Swenson and the same list goes on.

    She’s honored but finds the fliers horrible? How about you give back the money that SVO PAC gave to your campaign?

    Oh boy, just the same ol’ candidate running for San Jose.

    Same ol’ same ol’.

  5. Shame on the SVO, allowing this garbage into our homes. Leaving me to explain to my kids what the guy is doing in the fake ad of him flipping off the camera. I will not vote for anyone the SVO supports.

    At least Pat Waite returned the contribution that the SVO made to his campaign when it happened in that instance.

    • Manipulating pictures is standard practice of two guys who did it in another city by darkening faces and using colors against minority candidates.

      One has a Campbell business address

  6. sure these mailers are stupid
    the accusations against them are all valid
    but until this stuff does not work
    and until candidates do not take the bait, nice mansplaining hard eye-roll response
    nothing will change

    question, what value does the svo have in attacking him anyways? he is clearly going to be their friend if he gets elected

  7. Pam Foley did the right thing

    In Santa Clara, Teresa ONeill is, even as the SVO goes after Gallagher, working to get the SVO to run Santa Clara.

    I can feel better Pam Foley after this article

  8. How does Pam Foley justify running for a higher office on the city council? Her performance as a trustee for the school board do justify her ascendancy to higher office. During her long tenure on the school board, student outcomes are poor to mediocre in Mathematics and English Language Arts! Only about half of third graders and 11th graders are meeting or exceeding standards on the 2017 ELA and there has not been much improvement over 3 years! Only a little more than 1/3 of Hispanic students meet standards in ELA in 2017. The achievement gap is wide for children of color, English Learners, students with Disability, and economically disadvantaged students! Only 3% of 11th grade English Learners met math standards in 2017! You can see the big picture of this poor performance at!

    When I tried to raise these issues at a Community Meeting in Willow Glen, Pam asked me if I was the one who wrote articles in San Jose Inside! When I said Yes, she said, You don’t like me, right? Before I could answer she had shuffled away saying, I am going over here to talk with people who like me!

    Pam is just another political schmoozer trying to move up the political ladder through loyalty and feel good relationships rather than a record of strong performance and knowledge! Time for her to get of the stage! I am going with the new guy and hope you do too!

  9. Running a clean campaign on the issues instead of personal attacks has its challenges. Look to Amy McGrath running for Congress in Kentucky. She takes the high road while the opposition slings mis-information and outright lies.
    Good Luck Ms. Foley.

  10. How interesting that Pam kept their money, even though she renounces their ads. She knows exactly who she’s going to bed with, and she’ll thank them if she’s elected.. Hopefully the voters can see through the blatancy!

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