Political Operative Again Targets Carrasco, Who Accuses Campos Clan of Obsessive Vendetta

James Rowen just can’t seem to quit Magdalena Carrasco. The political operative who was sued off the Internet for defamation has once again taken aim at the San Jose councilwoman’s fundraising before taking office this year.

Previously, Rowen sent out dozens of emails to media and city staff excoriating Carrasco for taking an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City, courtesy of the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and Yellow Checker Cab. The trip, taken in September 2014, forced Carrasco to declare a conflict of interest that bars her from voting on taxis this year. Rowen’s now calling out Carrasco for exploiting a fundraising loophole for her East Side school board campaign from 2012.

Campaign disclosure forms filed this week show that Carrasco spent the end of 2014 collecting contributions as large as $5,000 a pop from companies of local developers, including Michael Van Every and Chris Neale, as well as $2,500 from Yellow Cab, to help close out $25,000 in debt. Had this been done for her council campaign, she would have been limited to raising $500 per donor. Carrasco says everything was done by the book and she’s had enough of Rowen and his backers, who she suspects include her vanquished campaign foe, Xavier Campos, along with big-sis Assemblywoman Nora Campos and brother-in-law Neil Struthers.

“They’re just angry people,” Carrasco says. “It’s like, get over it. You’re not a freaking dynasty.”

She added that the Campos Clan’s continued attacks against her—while not even mentioning Xavier’s rigged election victory in 2010—are “illogical,” but “maybe it’s a way they think they can stay relevant.”

Nora terms out of the Assembly at the end of 2016, but she’s apparently filed papers for a state Senate run in 2020. Hard to say who she will berate between now and then.

Rowen says he’s never worked for the Camposes or Struthers, but he does do contract work for their consultant, Ed McGovern, on Santa Clara issues.

“If I'm supposed to be working with labor, why is (county Democratic Party chair) Steve Preminger calling me and telling me to lay off Magdalena?” says Rowen.

While the money Carrasco raised from developers for her school board campaign could be seen as potential conflicts worth disclosing, she actually voted against Van Every’s land conversion proposal in May.

“I think he gave me a substantial contribution,” Carrasco says. “I haven’t had a conversation with Michael after that vote. I think Michael has done some good work. In that particular instance, I don’t think it was a good fit for the city. I think we needed to maintain that property and not convert it. I’m sure Michael was not happy with the verdict. I voted my conscience.”

Van Every tells Fly he made a contribution to help Carrasco retire school board campaign debt, and he never expects campaign contributions to lead to automatic support.

But to add a final twist, Carrasco’s fundraising may not be done quite yet. She raised $16,500 in the final weeks of 2014, which is short of the $25,000-plus debt she owes her school board consultant, John Shallman. In fact, all of that money sat in a bank account untouched the first six months of this year. Carrasco says she prefers to pay off the debt in one lump sum rather than installments.

Bringing things full circle, Shallman also happened to run the independent expenditure committee that supported Carrasco's council run and spent more than $100,000 to help kill Xavier Campos’ career.

UPDATE: City communications director David Vossbrink provided this answer in response to Fly’s questions about the matter:

“I checked with the City Attorney’s Office regarding your question about any legal conflict of interest issues associated with Councilmember Carrasco’s campaign contributions.

“The short answer is: no, there is no legal conflict from campaign contributions, and there is no requirement for recusal. Actual material and legal conflicts (such as a financial stake or property interest that could be affected by a specific decision) are defined by City and state laws.

“In addition, the City and ESUHSD are different jurisdictions with different rules. If she is compliant with the District (or not) that’s their responsibility to determine or enforce, not the City’s.”

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.


      • SJIS isn’t using Rowan as a source. To understand this you have to understand how SJI works… (1) SJI has a bone to pick with the Campos’ (Nora and Brother Xavier) for who knows what (2) SJI exposed Shirakawa’s involvement in a campaign smear that helped Xavier get elected to the Council (3) SJI endorsed Carrasco when she ran for City Council and beat Xavier. (4) After SJI’s endorsement and Carrasco’s win it turns out that Carrasco (a) was a little more independent than SJI expected and (b) had legal issues of her own regarding her campaign which leads to SJI having to clean some egg off its face.

        Back to the CAmpos’ … as mentioned before SJI is always on the hunt for dirt on Nora and Xavier. Nora this and nora that… partly because Nora is married to a man who is rabidly pro-labor …. In San Jose “pro-labor” is code for “pro-police” and “pro-fire fighter” which are two occupations that SJI is just as rabidly opposed to (a) mainly due to pay and benefits (really the only reason they don’t like fire) but, (b) in the case of the police… well according to SJI and the left that it touts for the police are nothing but a bunch of racist criminals that the public /taxpayers shouldn’t have to spend money on – or at least not so much money on.

        Keep this little history in mind and re-read the title of the piece again and it will make sense… This is all about someone other than SJI saying the Campos’ are up to no good. They are using Carrasoc to say it now – and no one at SJI has the guts to put their own name on the article so they use “The Fly” by-line.

        The further SJI moves from relevance they harder they grasp at straws.

        • Thank you for the summary.

          If people want campaign contribution limits for the East Side School Board (or any other school board or city council which doesn’t have limits), then voters need to demand such contribution limits. Like it or not, without those limits, $5000 contributions are legal; apparently late contributions to retire campaign debt are also legal. City Councils have moved to impose limits on campaign contributions. Apparently, some or most school boards in SC County haven’t.

          It would be interesting to have a summary of which City Councils/School Boards have contribution limits and which don’t. Voters don’t have the time/energy to do this research. Perhaps SJI could look into this issue and provide its readers with a report.

        • San Jose Inside picks on the Campos siblings because SJI hates police and fire fighters… You are literally insane.

          • Never said that , you inferred it and you’re practicing psychiatry without a license. Stick to your job of 18th floor bootlicking.

    • Are you referring to Magdalena or Nora and Xavier Campos? It is Nora Campos who has issues with her staff.

  1. James Rowen, you are a sad shell of a man. What library or filthy basement are you spewing your latest round of hate. You have a million dollar judgment against you, no home, no future, no life.

    Why don’t you find religion and absolve your many sins already.

  2. “If I’m supposed to be working with labor, why is (county Democratic Party chair) Steve Preminger calling me and telling me to lay off Magdalena?” says Rowen.”

    This is an interesting statement by Rowen… Is he saying Preminger is his boss?

  3. Everyone knows politicians are pretty much all dirt bags with no unique or useable skills. Why they choose to present themselves as honorable and trustworthy is beyond belief. The fact that they are hounded by stalkers and fellow former politicians for their improprieties and misdeeds brings me a great deal of joy and happiness. What goes around comes around….

  4. May The God of Israel bring righteous leaders to San Jose for many long years to come. Your job title is PUBLIC SERVICE doing whats right for the people of San Jose not making yourself look good on paper. GOOD= DIVINE EGO= EVIL May all city officials of San Jose be blessed with wisdom,clarity,understanding and may San Jose be overflowing with sweet blessings,peace,love and prosperity for many long years to come. Amen.

  5. “In fact, all of that money sat in a bank account untouched the first six months of this year. Carrasco says she prefers to pay off the debt in one lump sum rather than installments.” I’d bet that Mr. Shallman would rather have some of the money Carrasco owes him instead of none, with the partial payment sitting in HIS bank account, not “Mañana Magdalena’s” account.

Leave a Reply

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