The spillover from Milpitas’ toxic political landscape has finally seeped over to San Jose. On Tuesday, Milpitas councilmember Debbie Giordano requested the city’s attorney investigate council colleague Armando Gomez’s fundraising activities for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
The direction by Giordano seems to be a direct response to Gomez—a senior budget advisor to Reed—targeting a lobbying loophole that he says Giordano and political consultant Vic Ajlouny have taken advantage of. Milpitas created an ordinance designed to create greater disclosure of lobbyist efforts—mainly to target Ajlouny’s dealings—but it was repealed. Jim Spence, a former San Jose police sergeant who unsuccessfully ran for San Jose City Council in 2000, funded the referendum effort on the ordinance. Ajlouny ran Spence’s campaign.
According to Ian Bauer’s reporting in the Milpitas Post, Gomez called Giordano’s request for an investigation into his fundraising for Reed a diversion from the real issue.
“It’s an easy strategy to try to avoid discussion of your political consultant and talk about somebody else here,” Gomez said, according to the Post. “The fact is that this consultant (Ajlouny) has worked behind the scenes and in many instances advanced your political agenda (and) held meetings on your behalf.”
What makes all of this even wackier is the fact that Ajlouny is a political consultant for Reed and is currently running the city’s Measure B campaign. Giordano wants City Attorney Mike Ogaz to investgate Gomez’s fundraising for San Jose’s mayor in 2006, 2008 and 2010, as well as find out how he reported that work to the state in campaign disclosure forms.
On top of all this, there is a recall effort against Gomez and councilmember Althea Polanski. The Post reports that a member of the public who works for the city, Paul Mullett, said in Tuesday’s meeting that Ajlouny called him a couple weeks ago and told him if he didn’t support the recall push, the organizers of the recall could consider pushing pension reform akin to San Jose’s Measure B effort.
Giordano said in the meeting that Gomez has his own conflicts after receiving campaign contributions—for his election race in Milpitas—from principals of Saggau & DeRollo LLC, which conducted survey work on a prior city ballot measure. Gomez reportedly voted to contract the survey work out to the firm as well as Oakland-based Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates.
Adding an additional layer, Tom Saggau and Dustin DeRollo are leading the anti-Measure B efforts in San Jose, pitting them firmly at odds with Reed.
Taking a step back from the confusion, it seems the mayor finds himself in the middle of a brawl where his allies and enemies all carry double-edged swords.