Parting Gifts from Former Supe Liz Kniss

Liz Kniss termed out of her Santa Clara County supervisor seat at the end of last year, and it was assumed she would ride off into the sunset to finish her political career on Palo Alto’s City Council. During the budget cycle last year, the Board of Supervisors even gave her a parting gift of sorts, donating $47k to Palo Alto Animal Services—while she was running for that city’s council seat—even though it is not a county entity. But it seems Kniss may have been throwing around her own handouts in her final year on the board. Kniss used her county charge card, or P-Card, on Nov. 20, 2012, to purchase $796 in services from, a website that teaches amateur day traders how to profit from the currency exchange market. County auditors managed to miss the charges in an audit performed last winter, which would come as a shock if auditors hadn’t repeatedly glossed over Supervisor George Shirakawa‘s illegitimate P-Card charges, which include trips to casinos. But the gambling tutorial Kniss bought could equate to just a fraction of the pension spike she gave her former chief of staff, Pattie Demellopine. In April of last year, Kniss bumped DeMellopine’s annual salary to almost $150,000 a year in base pay. The $12,000 raise made the former District 5 staffer the highest paid Board of Supervisors employee—even higher than the total compensation Kniss and the other supervisors received. While Kniss had the right to dictate her staff salaries through her office’s budget, the secret pay bump could add thousands to DeMellopine’s annual pension payout from CalPERS, which in effect passes down added cost to the county. (DeMellopine’s pension is still under review, according to a CalPERS employee.) Kniss did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but that’s probably because converting county funds into euros and yen is a time-consuming task.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1.,,, filsaime

    All websites that sell training on how to trade financial instruments. Could Liz have bee setting herself up for post $142K a year? Of course she was.

    Now that’s not a bad thing if you are paying for it yourself, but she was obviously fleecing the taxpayers.

    I reviewed the creditcard statement in the link above, but don’t see any receipts that itemize the transactions. Did San Jose Inside ge those, if so please post.

    Funny how I hear nothing but silence from Mike Wasserman who promised to be a watchdog and assured us of his fiscal conservatism.He’s obviously not much different.

  2. As the Chief Operating Officer for Santa Clara County, the Board of Supervisors has assigned me the task of reviewing all P-card purchases for elected and appointed officials beginning December 2012.  I reviewed the charge to ForexMentor and determined that it was fraudulent and not authorized by Supervisor Kniss.  The same billing statement shows a credit from the Bank once they determined it was a fraudulent charge.  The audit of Supervisor Kniss’s P-card charges also noted the charge was the result of her card being compromised and was not mentioned in the report because of that fact.

    • OK. “forexmentor” was found to be fraudulent by your office in December 2012 – the charge was made to the card on 11/20/2012 and posted on 11/27/2012.  The bank reversed the charges – great! What is the status of the criminal investigation into the fraudulent use?

      Some one got some product from “Forexmentor” – a website that provides training to amateur traders in the currency markets. Should’t be to tough to track that person(s) down.

      What about the charges that were payments to “”(one charge)  a “filsaime.” (2 charges on the same day!) BOTH are websites that provide information/training to “day-traders.” 

      What did you find out about the payments to these companies?  Someone out there got services from them paid for with Kniss’s P-card.

      Do you see a pattern here? Did someone in Kniss’s office approach you when they discovered the charges on the statment or did you discover them and inquire?

      It may come as a shock but there are “good” people out there who might claim “fraudulent use” rather than suffer the embarrassment that Shirakawa brought on himself…

      You are going to have to do better than this.

Leave a Reply

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