New requests for San Jose Mayor to turn over private Gmail messages

New requests for San Jose Mayor to turn over private Gmail messages
Photo Credit: Facebook/SamLiccardo1
By Wesley Severson - Published on August 03, 2021.

There’s growing controversy surrounding the mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, and his alleged inappropriate use of public and private email accounts. According to San Jose Spotlight, well-known Bay Area attorney Karl Olson and the watchdog group First Amendment Coalition have each filed public records requests with the city of San Jose demanding the release of Liccardo’s emails sent from his Gmail account.

These new requests come just one week after a separate report alleged that Liccardo tried to bypass the California Public Records Act by telling local homeless advocate, Scott Largent, to talk police and city code business using Liccardo’s Gmail account instead of his official government account. The email San Jose Spotlight obtained shows that Liccardo told Largent he would delete the conversation from his official account. 

Then another move was made which implicated Liccardo even more. San Jose Spotlight used the public records law to request that the emails with Largent be released. The mayor’s office responded saying that no emails were found. But, after San José Spotlight revealed it already had copies of the emails, the mayor’s office changed its tune saying that they turned over the request too soon before it actually had searched Liccardo’s Gmail account. The emails still haven’t been released by the city.

Olson’s request states, “with the knowledge that Liccardo deletes public emails, uses his personal Gmail to conduct city business and the city’s failure to turn over those records, we’re now insisting that the mayor’s private email accounts be searched and that we receive copies of all emails sent from his private Gmail account pertaining to city business.”

Olson won a supreme court case representing the media against San Jose in 2017 where judges ended up forcing the city to release private emails from city officials including the mayor. “The mayor is a repeat offender. It was his use of private devices that led to the Supreme Court case. It’s very troubling that he’s still doing it,” Olson told San José Spotlight. 

So far, the mayor’s office is not responding to request for comments. But in a statement, Assistant City Attorney Kevin Fisher told San José Spotlight that he believes the mayor acted appropriately and didn’t break the law even though the Gmail messages haven’t been released as required under the Public Records Act. Only time will tell if the city will comply with these two new public records requests from Olsen and the First Amendment Coalition.