FORTY-EIGHT HOURS after Santa Clara’s city attorney confidentially emailed a critical grand jury report to councilmembers, the city’s politically-charged police union launched a damning website blasting the city’s top leaders.

The site revealed the confidential report’s name, full paragraphs with incriminating details and photos of five councilmembers criticized in the report — including Anthony Becker, who was running against Mayor Lisa Gillmor, the favored candidate of the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association. The union’s political action committee spent tens of thousands of dollars to defeat Becker and secure Gillmor’s narrow reelection in 2022.

The website was the first blow. The police union doubled down by swiftly launching social media attack ads and sending mailers to tank Becker’s campaign — with the searing grand jury report at the center.

Becker has taken the fall for “leaking” the secret report — and faces two charges from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office — without the office publicly questioning how his opponent’s supporters got a copy of the report with enough time to create a website, attack ads and mailers.

A copy of a Santa Clara Police Officers Association mailer linking to its website with the grand jury report. (San Jose Spotlight)

As the investigation unfolded, the district attorney’s office raided Becker’s home twice. He was detained and put in handcuffs as his home was ransacked. One of those raids happened hours before he was set to appear in court on Wednesday. Agents even took his marriage license. Becker has pleaded not guilty, and faces four years in county jail if convicted of perjury.

“This feels like a political assassination,” Santa Clara Vice Mayor Kevin Park told San José Spotlight. “How did the (police union) get this information? Why did they register a website? None of these things are being investigated and that’s the bigger problem for me. Do I think someone other than Anthony would have leaked information? Absolutely.”

District Attorney Jeff Rosen would not say whether his office is investigating other leaks of the report.

“To maintain the integrity of cases filed and unfiled, we do not confirm investigations or publicly announce their details unless we file charges in court,” he said.

A leak at City Hall

Last October, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury authored a scathing 61-page report that accused five councilmembers of having unethical ties to the San Francisco 49ers and putting the football team’s interests above the city. San José Spotlight revealed that jurors failed to interview three of the five councilmembers — including Becker — before completing the report.

According to multiple sources inside Santa Clara City Hall, Mayor Gillmor forwarded a copy of the secret report to her private Gmail account shortly after then-interim City Attorney Steve Ngo sent it to her and six other councilmembers. It’s unclear if the mayor shared it with the police union, which heavily supported her reelection campaign. Gillmor has not been charged by the DA’s office.

The police union registered the domain,, on Oct. 7 — just two days after Ngo confidentiality shared it with the mayor and her council colleagues. The final grand jury report was released on Oct. 10.

“No one cares about looking at all the leaks,” John McLemore, a former councilmember, told San José Spotlight. “The (police union) clearly got a copy, knew what it was all about and started to set up their political hit machine for the election which was less than five weeks from the day the grand jury report was released to city officials.”

When asked whether the police union got a leaked copy of the report, its top leader would not say.

“I can’t answer that question,” Jeremy Schmidt, police union president, told San José Spotlight. “I’d be happy to explain that to you when the time is right, but unfortunately this is not that time.”

He also declined to explain how the union launched its website featuring parts of the report on Oct. 7.

On Oct. 10, Santa Clara Police Chief Pat Nikolai publicly called on the district attorney to investigate the report’s claims.

Nikolai told San José Spotlight this week he didn’t receive a leaked copy of the report and saw it when this news organization published its story on Oct. 7. He hasn’t been subpoenaed or questioned by the district attorney’s office and said he doesn’t know how the police union received a leaked copy of the report.

Gillmor did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Ngo, who left the city this year, did not return a call for comment.

A flawed process

Weeks after losing the mayor’s race by fewer than 800 votes, investigators demanded Becker come into the downtown courthouse on Nov. 28 to answer questions. He was greeted by Deputy District Attorney Jason Malinsky and members of the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury, according to sources.

They began asking him how he and his husband make money and whether the 49ers pay them. They even asked what the couple talks about at night in bed. They didn’t show him any evidence that tied him to the potential leak.

A month later, Becker was called into the office again. This time he was asked about his relationship with the football team. When Becker tried to end the meeting, investigators flashed a search warrant and tried to take his phone and keys to search his car. They told him he needed to comply or he’d be put on the ground. He was held for hours without being charged.

At the same time, Becker’s husband reported that nearly two dozen agents swarmed their Santa Clara apartment and held him for two hours. The agents seized phones and computers that are more than a decade old. Five months later, Becker still has not received his belongings back.

Hours before his hearing on Wednesday, agents swarmed his apartment again, disconnected security cameras and took his new phone and marriage license, among other things.

A photo of Councilmember Anthony Becker’s apartment after agents from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office raided it. (Courtesy of Becker family)
A photo of Councilmember Anthony Becker’s car in disarray after agents from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office searched it. Photo courtesy of Becker family.

“There are two sides to every story and before we commit ourselves to either, we must hear both,” Chris Montoya, deputy public defender and Becker’s attorney, told San José Spotlight. “At this point it appears that the presumption of innocence has been forgotten by some.”

Biased behavior

Days after announcing the charges against Becker, Rosen used the case to boost his public persona. On April 20, the DA sent an email titled “Leaking and Lying” detailing the case with a photo of himself paid for by his campaign. Rosen won his reelection in 2022.

Despite the fact that Becker hadn’t been convicted, faced a trial or even entered a plea at that point, Rosen called him a “politician favoring deep-pocketed special interests above his constituents.”

One of Rosen’s subscribers forwarded the email to dozens of South Bay elected officials.

A screenshot of an email newsletter from DA Jeff Rosen promoting himself amid the ongoing investigation of Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker. (San Jose Spotlight)

Daniel Chung, a local prosecutor who ran for DA last year, said it’s unethical for Rosen to use his platform to sway public opinion and legal decisions—especially when there’s been no convictions. He declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

“Everything is political unfortunately,” Chung said. “And unfortunately in this office there is a great deal of blurring of lines between campaigning and governing or prosecuting. I think it’s very inappropriate.”

Prosecutors hold extraordinary power that can turn someone’s life upside down, Chung said, which is why they need constant training on how and when to bring criminal charges. In Becker’s case, he lost his job shortly after being subpoenaed by the DA and having his phone and computers seized.

“When I was in the office, I would say training was a bit lacking for prosecutors to learn how to do things properly,” Chung said, adding that Rosen’s office should recuse itself if there are political motivations. “That is where the shit starts flowing downward.”

Park, Santa Clara’s vice mayor, said the situation calls for an independent, outside review. He’s advocating for the state Attorney General to get involved — an opportunity to give Becker a fair shake and to investigate other potential leaks of the confidential report.

“The AG is a busy guy but there seem to be enough issues with the DA,” Park said. “We need to look at the relationships between some of the councilmembers in Santa Clara and the DA’s office.”

Senior reporter Joseph Geha contributed to this report.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at or follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

This story originally appeared in San Jose Spotlight.