SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The former chief lobbyist for the San Francisco 49ers has testified that a Silicon Valley city councilman illegally leaked a confidential report criticizing the team’s political influence, it was reported Friday.
Rahul Chandhok told a criminal grand jury March 21 that Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker digitally sent him the report — which was made by a civil grand jury — last October, the San Francisco Chronicle reported after reviewing a transcript of his testimony.
Prosecutors accuse Becker of providing the secret report to Chandhok and a local news outlet ahead of its official release and then lying to the grand jury about it.
He has pleaded not guilty to one felony count of perjury under oath and a misdemeanor count of willful failure to perform duty. He could face up to four years in state prison if convicted.
The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team, and the two sides have feuded for years through ethics complaints and legal disputes.
Santa Clara County prosecutors said the football team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending at least $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 winning City Council race and a failed mayoral bid last year.
Tthe civil grand jury report, titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council,” alleged that councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers.”
In his testimony, Chandhok said Becker sent him a copy of the report four days before it was to be made public and a month before the mayoral election, the Chronicle said.
Chandhok said he then began working to blunt the impact of the report.
Following news coverage of the report, Chandhok attacked it as “a shocking political hatchet job” in a statement that also alleged the civil grand jurors that issued it were corrupt and publicized where they lived and worshipped, the Chronicle said.
“The 49ers are committed to being a positive and contributing member of our community,” the team said Friday in a statement. “As the transcripts are related to an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to make any further comment at this time.”