California’s political watchdog is investigating allegations that Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith skirted gift-reporting rules after testimony surfaced at a criminal grand jury hearing on her handling of concealed gun permits.
Management analyst Lara McCabe told grand jurors on Nov. 16 the sheriff asked her to buy nosebleed seats to a San Jose Sharks game a couple years ago so that she could attend a celebration of her 2018 re-election in a luxury box.
McCabe’s testimony led the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to wonder whether Smith, Undersheriff Rick Sung and Capt. James Jensen violated the state’s conflict-of-interest and gift-disclosure laws. Buying a ticket to enter the arena and dropping by a friend’s suite is a common practice amongst the luxury box set, as Fly knows from the long gone days when Metro bought a fractional share of one suite.
In a letter notifying the accused about the probe, FPPC Enforcement Division Chief Angela Brereton said the commission received a complaint about the matter on Jan. 14, two days after the grand jury transcripts became public.
The notice went to attorneys for Smith, Sung and Jensen—Allen Ruby, Chuck Smith and Harry Stern, respectively.
The complaint details remain private for now, according to FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga. But witness testimony that inspired the review accused Sung of holding up concealed gun permits for Apple exec Thomas Moyer and South Bay businessman Harpreet Chadha until the former agreed to donate iPads to the Sheriff’s Office and the latter invited Smith to his Sharks suite.
Guests at the $365-a-head penthouse box included some of Smith’s family and political patrons, according to prosecutors. Namely, entrepreneur Gary Bechtel (described by witnesses as then romantically involved with Smith), the sheriff’s daughter and son-in-law, Nvidia founder Chris Malachowsky, CyberCSI CEO Dave Sanders, philanthropists Frank and Marilyn Dorsa and ex-Congressman Mike Honda.