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Silicon Valley lawmaker accused of leaking grand jury report on 49ers’ influence

Santa Clara City Council member Anthony Becker received campaign contributions from the 49ers, and now faces charges of leaking a grand jury report on the team's political influence.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (CN) — A Santa Clara, California, City Council member has been indicted on accusations that he committed perjury by leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers and local media outlets. 

On Thursday, the Santa Clara County grand jury indicted Anthony Becker, charging him with perjury by leaking a civil grand jury report on an “unethical relationship” between several Santa Clara City Council members and the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have local influence due to interest in the publicly owned Levi's Stadium located in Santa Clara.

According to the indictment, Becker gave the October report  "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council" to Rahul Chandhok, formerly the chief communications officer for the 49ers, and the local news outlet Silicon Valley Voice several days before it was published. The grand jury accuses Becker of willfully failing to perform his duty as an elected official by lying under oath that he did not leak the document. 

The grand jury also accuses Becker of lying under oath by saying that he did not communicate with Chandhok or any other 49ers representatives between Oct. 5 to Oct. 10, 2022. Chandhok resigned from the 49ers to take a job with U.S. Soccer in Chicago, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

The October 2022 report that Becker is accused of leaking revealed he and four other Santa Clara City Council members of often voting in favor of items that benefit the 49ers.

The grand jury criticized the 49ers’ heavy involvement in local politics and recommended ways that the city could rectify the situation, but did not accuse the City Council members of any crimes. It raised concerns that several council members received large campaign donations from 49ers-backed PACs just days after a legal settlement over the stadium use was reached, with at least $1.5 million going into their war chests.

In the indictment, the grand jury also noted former city manager Deanna Santana, who the grand jury said tried to “bring to light” the lack of transparency and potential risks to the city from the stadium and events, was ousted this year.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe were not implicated in the October report, which describes clear divisions on the council. The city rejected most of the report's findings, but Santa Clara Police Chief Pat Nikolai released a statement that he had requested Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen to investigate.

The City Council did not respond to a request for comment on Becker's indictment. Santa Clara spokesperson Michelle Templeton declined to comment, saying by email the city would continue to monitor the situation.

In a statement, DA Rosen said Becker had "violated the public’s trust. That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.” 

Becker ran to replace Gillmor in 2022 but lost in the general election. He did not respond to a request for comment before press time. He is expected to be arraigned Monday, and if convicted of perjury, a felony, faces a maximum of four years in prison.

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Categories / Criminal, Politics, Regional, Sports

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