Recent developments have cast a new light on the case involving Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker, who faces multiple charges related to the leaking of a confidential civil grand jury report and allegations of an attempt to frame Mayor Lisa Gillmor. According to transcripts obtained by and reported on The Mercury News, Becker allegedly admitted to fellow Councilmember Suds Jain that he leaked the grand jury report, titled "Unsportsmanlike Conduct." The report was highly critical of Becker and several other councilmembers, accusing them of voting in favor of the interests of the San Francisco 49ers who have had well-document tensions with the city over Levi's Stadium.
While Becker has maintained his innocence and pled not guilty to leaking the report per an article from The Mercury News earlier this month, testimony from campaign volunteer David Andre suggests Becker was, in fact the leaker and had also attempted to blame Mayor Lisa Gillmor for distributing the documents. The councilmember allegedly even showed up at Andre's doorstep on the day his phones and computers were seized by the district attorney's office, leaving the volunteer "nervous" and "disturbed," per today's The Mercury News story.
As reported by ABC7 News, the indictment has fueled controversy in Santa Clara, with Mayor Gillmor and some residents calling for Becker's resignation. Several council colleagues, however, have defended him and are advocating for letting the legal process play out.
Meanwhile, questions remain around the extent of the 49ers' influence in the city. The team provided millions of dollars into Becker's mayoral race and other local elections, according to a San José Spotlight piece on the topic. Santa Clara Vice Mayor Kevin Park referred to the situation as a "political assassination" and called for an independent review and potential involvement from the state Attorney General.
The grand jury report, a 61-page document, accused five councilmembers, including Becker, of unethical ties to the 49ers and for putting the team's interests above those of the city. It was leaked to several media outlets in October 2022, before its official release. Falling in line with the alleged setup orchestrated by Becker, sources in the San José Spotlight's report claimed that Mayor Gillmor forwarded a copy of the confidential report to her private email account, which at the time raised questions about her involvement in the leak and the possibility that she shared the report with others. It is unclear whether the sources were in fact the framing now coming to light.
Moreover, the Santa Clara Police Officers' Association played a significant role in the events, as it had launched a website containing excerpts from the grand jury report and started a social media campaign against Becker. The association had spent tens of thousands of dollars to support Mayor Gillmor's re-election campaign.
In light of these developments, Councilmember Becker's case has taken on new dimensions, adding further twists to an already complex legal and political drama. While the outcome of the case remains uncertain, the impact on Santa Clara's politics is undeniable, as the city grapples with the powerful influence of the 49ers and the potential for further political turbulence.