Gay Santa Clara councilmember Becker indicted over leaked 49ers report

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Friday April 14, 2023
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Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker. Photo: Courtesy Anthony Becker
Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker. Photo: Courtesy Anthony Becker

Gay Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is facing one felony charge stemming from his role in leaking a report about the dealings between the South Bay city's leaders and the San Francisco 49ers football team.

He appeared in court April 17 but did not enter a plea as he needs more time to find an attorney. He is expected to return to court May 3, according to reports.

The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury revealed Friday that it had indicted Becker after he lied to it about his disclosing last October the grand jury's report "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council" to Rahul Chandhok, who was at the time the professional sports team's chief communications and public affairs officer. The grand jury had determined that several City Council members, including Becker, had engaged in an unethical relationship with the San Francisco 49ers, which relocated to Santa Clara a decade ago after it built a new stadium there.

According to the five-page indictment released April 14 by the office of Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Becker provided a copy of the confidential document to Chandhok several days before it was to be publicly released on October 10. It also said the grand jury had found evidence showing Becker had also leaked the report to the local news website Silicon Valley Voice, which reported on it three days before it was to be published.

Another local news outlet, San Jose Spotlight, also wrote about the report prior to its being officially released. It also uploaded the entire 61-page document to its website.

In addition to being charged with perjury, Becker, 37, is also facing a misdemeanor charge for violating his duty to keep the draft report confidential. His arraignment is scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. in Dept. 26 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

If convicted of perjury, Becker faces a maximum sentence of four years in county jail.

"Councilmember Becker violated the public's trust," stated Rosen in a news release announcing the indictment. "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 declined to comment in a texted reply early Friday evening to the Bay Area Reporter. He referred questions to his public defender, attorney Chris Montoya, who could not immediately be reached and, until last November, had been with the San Diego Public Defender's office.

Becker has long denied accusations that he has taken actions as a council member favorable to the 49ers.

In a statement 49ers spokesperson Brian Brokaw provided to news outlets, the team said it has "cooperated fully with the District Attorney's Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so. However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time."

Team owner Jed York had pumped millions of dollars into the 2020 council races to help elect Becker and several other council candidates that November. Last year, Becker lost his bid to oust from office team critic Mayor Lisa Gillmor, whom he had also lost against in the city's 2018 mayoral election.

In both races Becker and Gillmor had clashed over the deal the city made more than a decade ago with the NFL team that led to it leaving San Francisco for a bayside new stadium in Santa Clara. The football team has repeatedly fought with city leaders and staff about the facility, from how it is managed to what the city is owed in stadium rent, leading to legal disputes.

"The 49ers have bankrolled Becker's political career in recent years," Rosen's office noted in its release about the councilmember's indictment. "In total, the 49ers provided over $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees to benefit Becker's 2020 successful city council campaign and his failed 2022 mayoral bid."

Ever since joining the council Becker has had an open door for team officials, arguing it is better for city leadership to engage with them in order to address the myriad issues with the stadium. He had denounced the grand jury's report about the council members' handling of the matter as a politically motivated hit piece aimed at derailing his mayoral bid last fall.

"This goes back 10 years when we brought the 49ers here. The mayor and City Council got a deal that is not the best for Santa Clara," Becker had told the B.A.R. last fall.

UPDATED 4/14/23 with a reply from Becker.

Updated, 4/18/23: This article has been updated to state that Becker has not yet entered a plea.

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