This article has been updated for a correction.
A Santa Clara City Council member has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a civil grand jury about leaking a report critical of the relationship between the council and the San Francisco 49ers football team, prosecutors said Friday.
Councilman Anthony Becker is accused of leaking a then-secret Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report to a 49ers employee last October and then lying while under oath to the civil grand jury about the leak, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
The grand jury report, titled "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council," alleged unethical relationships between multiple members of the City Council and the 49ers, whose Levi's Stadium is located in Santa Clara.
Becker allegedly leaked the report at least three days ahead of its planned Oct. 10 release, sending it to Rahul Chandhok, former 49ers chief communications and public affairs officer, as well as a local media outlet. Chandhok is currently chief external communications officer for the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Along with the felony perjury charge, he has also been charged with a misdemeanor for violating his duty to keep the draft report confidential, prosecutors said.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public's trust,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
The District Attorney's Office noted in a press release about the charges that the 49ers have been a strong supporter of Becker's political campaigns, providing more than $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for Becker's successful 2020 City Council campaign and his unsuccessful bid in 2022 to be elected mayor.
Becker is set to be arraigned Monday in San Jose and faces a maximum sentence of four years in county jail, prosecutors said.
He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on the charges.
The 61-page grand jury document entitled, Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Santa Clara City Council followed what it said was a nearly four-month investigation by the 19-member appointed watchdog body. With few exceptions, the report’s observations, conclusions and recommendations landed squarely on one side of the city’s political divide–led by Mayor Lisa Gillmor–that was on the losing end of the 2020 council elections and of efforts to prevent the firing of former city Manager Deanna Santana and former city attorney Brian Doyle.
A draft report was sent to the City of Santa Clara on Oct. 5, and the Superior Court's grand jury administrator gave the city until 10 am today to respond with comments or suggested corrections of fact. It received no responses from the city.
The final version was posted on the grand jury website shortly before 5pm Oct. 10. The final version included a brief introduction mentioning that some news media had obtained copies of the draft report on Oct. 7, with a reminder that release of any information other than the final report was illegal, suggesting that the leak of the draft came from someone in Santa Clara City Hall.
California law that states: “No officer, agency, department or governing body of a public agency shall disclose any contents of the report prior to the public release of the final report.”