Former Congressman Mike Honda Intertwined with Latest Santa Clara and 49ers Drama

There’s yet another rumpus in Santa Clara, this time about dozens of private meetings held in 2021 between the 49ers management and city councilors—dubbed by civilian detractors as the “49er Five.”

But while wags wonder if any confidential info was disclosed behind closed doors, one name has seemingly dodged any attention: former Congressman Mike Honda.

Nearly $3 million in campaign donations from 49er CEO Jed York flowed through “Citizens for Efficient Government and Full Voting Rights,” a PAC founded by Honda, which helped elect three of its four endorsed candidates in Santa Clara in 2020.

According to 49ers spokesman Rahul Chandhok, last September Honda requested support in “bringing fair, balanced and diverse representation to Santa Clara,” and the team was “proud to answer his call.”

But political operative and infamous mudslinger James Rowen is curious if this type of support comes from the same playbook Honda used in 2015, when an ethics probe whistleblower found he helped organize a “1,000 Cranes” pay-to-play scheme. He solicited donors that would allegedly have greater access to Honda for favors after an election, including help smoothing over issues acquiring a visa for family members.

A records request disclosed a small handful of Honda's emails, but revealed that Councilmember Kevin Park messaged the retired Honda about “[meeting] to discuss strategy” about state politics.

It’s up to state ethics officials to decide if those crumbs are enough to investigate whether any “cranes” are involved in Santa Clara, or simply politics as usual.

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. How did the happy tale of the 49ers coming to Santa Clara become the evil tale of Jed Sauron York invading the Shire with Orcs and Mike Honda as the Goblin General to capture the Ring from Lisa Gillmor-Baggins?
    Blame Ed Grima Wormtongue McGovern and Raul Wormtongue Chamdhok who both in 2015 boasted that Gillmor was unnecessary, they had the votes. Sadly as the term got their stadium, the people were not necessary. Good people who attended 67 coouncil meeting were blocked from the ground breaking. The latest Honda operation was just another way to say, Santa Clarans, we own the stadium for you. Stay out of the way

  2. Honda and the 49ers have had their eyes on Santa Clara for a long time.
    49ers Video Promotes Anti-Asian Stereotypes : Asian-Nation : Asian American News, Issues, & Current Events Blog
    In 2005, the 49ers went to meeting in Chinatown. One of the organizers of the meeting, Doug Chan.
    In 1997, the city and the 49ers promised a new football stadium and mall, 10,000 new jobs and a Super Bowl in San Francisco if voters passed a stadium ballot measure, and the measure passed with the support of San Francisco’s Asian American voters, Doug Chan of the Chinese American Voter Education Committee reminded York.

    Chan urged York to give a percentage of jobs and contracts to Chinese Americans and minority-owned businesses whenever the new stadium is built. “Let’s start fulfilling promises,” he said.
    Eleven years later, Honda Advisor and 49er Consultant Rich Robinson, along with Ed McGovern, 49er Campaign Consultant formed Bluepac.
    Watchdog group claims 49ers trying to influence local election – ABC7 San Francisco (
    Bluepac was formed as a dark money foundation. To date, Santa Clara and the FPPC has fined Chan and Robinson, $12,000 for lying on campaign forms

    Philanthropy’s dark money | Nonprofit Chronicles
    McGovern boasted to an associated BLUEPAC was formed to target Debi Davis and Teresa O’Neill, and to attack Lisa Gillmor. Honda staffer Ahmad Rafah was recruited to run against O’Neill. Blue Wave Strategies ran Rafah’s campaign which was stillborn.
    4 years later, Honda sets up a statewide committee which fails to file with the state to dominate city elections with 49er money.
    McGovern, who blocked people who supported Lisa Gillmor from attending the groundbreaking, has a goal, instead of the Green Packers being owned by the town residents of Green Bay, he and York want to own Santa Clara.
    As for Honda, he has one sound.
    Gold coins ringing.

  3. Congressman Mike Honda and his staff appear to have improperly used U.S. government resources to benefit his re-election campaign and linked official activities to political donations, the Office of Congressional Ethics said Thursday as it released a long-awaited report.
    The pattern of allegations represented the most serious charges leveled against a Bay Area House member in recent memory.
    The independent nonpartisan office’s 41-page report, presented to the House Ethics Committee on June 5 but not made public until Thursday, details a series of instances in which Honda’s staffers — particularly Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide and former District Director Meri Maben — blurred or crossed the line between their official duties and working for Honda’s campaign.
    Mercury News 2015

    Rep. Honda OCE Report and Findings Exhibits 1-9.pdf (

    Page 26 of 51, witness admits Honda’s staff discussed City Council campaigns, rating candidates
    Cupertino, Milpitas officials complained
    This confirms FPPC complaints
    Honda, Park, McGovern are dirty

  4. James Rowen is mentally unstable and sounds more and more like Robert Haugh. What they have in common is their dedicated service and loyalty to Lisa Gillmor. Birds of a racist feather flock together. Rumor has it that Teresa O’Neill uses James Rowen because she can’t get over losing to Kevin Park, at the same time Gillmor can’t get over losing her majority to independently elected councilmembers; especially people of color that were elected.

    Makes me think how far they will all go …… lie, cheat, steal and accuse. Makes you wonder if Rowen and Haugh are best buddies even thought one sued the other one in the past for making up things. But again loyalty to Gillmor is the common denominator.

    Both Haugh and Rowen love to make up accusations while insulting and degrading people. They are some of the lowest forms of trash on the planet. How do they sleep at night ? Someone should investigate their unethical and borderline criminal actions. Someone should investigate their ties to Lisa Gillmor.
    Lisa Gillmor must be funding both of them. How do they survive ? the Gillmor bucks must be keeping them afloat or they wouldn’t have a chance or a voice.

  5. “But political operative and infamous mudslinger James Rowen is curious if this type of support comes from the same playbook Honda used in 2015, when an ethics probe whistleblower found he helped organize a…”

    How is this even an article?

    Listen, Mike Honda seems like a typical old-school Democrat well healed in the machinations of DC and its appropriations, I guess for better or worse. I can’t say his tenure was my cup of tea, but come on – looking out for the Faithful, tech education, along with an assortment of identity politics leg, how can a Dem complain about this guy?

    Come on, the man has lead a pretty storied life (starting with being sent to Camp Apache when he was one) and has carried the left’s flag with realism and consistency. Ro Khanna is a phony and shouldn’t even be able to shine this man’s shoes. And you publish an SHHHMEAR article with this 1000 cranes nonsense based on curiosity of this Rowan character no one outside of baseball knows, cares about, or has voted for.

    Shame on your laziness.

  6. @Unstable – Is there a fact in that rant? Congratulations on “most continuous smear without an iota of proof.”

  7. Poor Santa Clara a city of innuendos, gossip and fairy tales – all to support the pockets of family that got their nose our of joint because they are no longer in control and a bigger player came to town, who we would like to remind you they invited to come play in their sand box. Best thing that could happen to Santa Clara is the Gillmor’s move to Modesto or better still Benicia or Loyalton where the real bodies are buried, or maybe they are under the building on Franklin St? Explain to me why a building they own has the grounds around it managed by the city? Who did that sweetheart deal? As for Haugh and Rowen will only go away when Lisa does not need them any more and stops paying their ‘living wage’. Good luck SC hope the Niners take control and Pave the streets with Gold and Red.

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