Dave Cortese Draws Scrutiny Over Taxpayer-Funded Swag

A couple of weeks ago, Fly took notice of Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese’s penchant for sponsoring events in his colleagues’ districts, which looked a bit like an effort to boost his profile for the race he’s running for State Senate District 15.

Well, we heard quite a bit of feedback since then about Cortese dipping into his office budget for other self-promotional things, like Cortese-banded swag, which he appears to be using more in a more political manner than seems appropriate.

According to our spies, Cortese has been handing them out at events not just outside the county district he represents.

Dave Cortese at SV Pride.

And he’s specifically setting up booths and doling out county-funded tchotchkes emblazoned with his own name in the bounds of State Senate D15, where he’s competing against San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis, former Assemblywoman Nora Campos, former Federal Elections Commission chair Ann Ravel and some out-of-the-blue nobody named Tim Gildersleeve for Jim Beall’s seat.

At the Rose, White and Blue Parade—an event in Supervisor Susan Ellenberg’s district that Cortese sponsored with county money—the state Senate hopeful rode in a car flanked by volunteers hoisting “Elect Dave Cortese” banners, making it clear that it was blatantly a campaign appearance.

Yet, observers say, his entourage took the occasion to shower onlookers with some impressively high-quality tote bags adorned with his name under a county seal and accompanied by his District 3 phone number and online landing pages.

Meanwhile, some pilots at the Reid-Hillview Airport—a decades-old facility in Supervisor Cindy Chavez’s district that she and Cortese want to close—have been miffed about several big blue banners bearing his name that his staff hung on the fence to advertise the upcoming “Day on the Bay” in Alviso.

“It’s just tacky,” a resident pilot remarked when Fly swung by earlier this week to see the display firsthand. “Doesn’t he want to shut this place down? Take your banners somewhere else, dude.”

A slew of Dave Cortese signs have been fastened to the perimeter of the airport he wants to close.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Is Khamis doing this?

    How is this ethical?

    Cortese has 400 grand in an account.

    He owns stock in 34 companies

    County workers are going on strike, and he is using taxpayer funded tote bags.

    He is closing down an airport and is campaigning there.

    Bumper stickers on deputy vehicles, lipton soup packets at the jail with Cortese on them.

    Three people called the FPPC advice line and are now filing complaints.

  2. That is the very own mark of Cortese, Chavez, and other supervisors. Is anyone surprised? I will vote for that nobody Tim.

  3. Step right up and welcome to freebies from State Senate candidate Cortese.

    Dave has ordered a big restaurant size cold box for his office full of gatorades and soft drinks for anyone living in his Senate District.

    Free rolls of stamps from Dave and Restaurant vouchers courtesy of Dave Cortese for Senate.

    Cortese is just as bad.com

    Ps Ann Ravel is a communist. Johnny Khamis is a commie. Nora is a commie.

    Dave bought some postcards with Dave the Supervisor and a sponge

  4. Vote for “out of the blue” Tim Gildersleeve! Why is it necessary to put down a newcomer. Our democracy allows anyone that is eligible to run. Again

  5. There was a crooked candidate
    His name was Dave Cortese
    He gave Patrick Falzer 12 grand for a campaign
    Falzer worked with Don Rocha
    Rocha controls Cortese office account
    Falzer ordered up tote bags, goodies all paid for taxpayers
    Rocha lives by the Golden Rule
    Do the crooked thing first
    Outcomes the cash, out go the tote bags
    Taxpayers pay for it all.

  6. Calling a human being a “nobody” is uncalled for. I bet if you called a woman a nobody you will have the wrath of the gender patrol.

  7. Cortese’s campaign banners (9 all together) along the Reid Hillview property fence line is inappropriate and surely against county ordinance. He is trying to shut down the airport and it’s not even in his district.

    • It is in the State Senate District.

      Rocha purchased hundreds of rubber band planes with CORTESE on them

      • I had lunch with Don Rocha before his loss to Susan Ellenberg. He led me to believe he would support the airport… until he lost. Then he joined forces with Dave Cortese. Can we trust either of them to do the right thing for Santa Clara County?

  8. A less-than-perfectly written piece, shall we say? But thanks for warning us about Tim Gildersleeve… that’s all we need, another ultra-religious wack job in government.

  9. This an absolute no brainer, Johnny Khamis is the only one qualifed for our district. I can only wonder how many pockets Cortese is in. Time to drain the swamp, don’t vote for Cortese.

  10. What i really want to see is someone do an in depth expose on the labor practices at the Cortese family farms where this trust fund baby got his money. Given how he touts his family contriubtions, the reality would be delicious irony in my opinion

  11. > At the Rose, White and Blue Parade—an event in Supervisor Susan Ellenberg’s district that Cortese sponsored with county money—the state Senate hopeful rode in a car flanked by volunteers hoisting “Elect Dave Cortese” banners, making it clear that it was blatantly a campaign appearance.

    Who would VOLUNTEER to hoist an “Elect Dave Cortese” banner?

    Don’t these people have consciences and ethical principles? What if their mother sees them on the TV news? I’m sure she would be mortified.

    I’m sure that money MUST have changed hands. Either that or there must be some kind of coercion or job pressure. I just can’t imagine anyone doing this of their own free will.

Leave a Reply

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