The Santa Clara County District Attorney has closed an investigation into Cupertino’s former Mayor Darcy Paul without bringing any criminal charges.
The news comes after two investigations, one by the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury and one commissioned by the City of Cupertino (page 68 of this packet), found that members of the previous Cupertino City Council had likely engaged in unethical behavior that created a “culture of distrust,” “dysfunction,” and a mass exodus of staff from key positions.
District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen’s investigation was sparked by a referral earlier this month from Cupertino’s City Attorney after direction from its current City Council. The Council majority’s decision was motivated after findings of the City’s independent investigation revealed former Mayor Paul may have inappropriately directed the hiring and firing of the municipality’s employees, a responsibility vested by law with the City Manager and not elected officials. The City’s commissioned report (page 68 of this packet) implied that the former Mayor’s actions may even have amounted to crimes.
According to reporting in the San Jose Spotlight, county prosecutor John Chase indicated that his office had “found no evidence that any former or current councilmember attempted to influence any of the city managers in their hiring or firing decisions during the last year.”
While Paul appears to have escaped criminal liability for the troubling behavior demonstrated in both the City-commissioned report and the Grand Jury report, the findings have certainly deepened existing political divides within the community. The saga around the now three separate investigations of Cupertino’s former City Council reflect a greater shift in the locality’s politics.
The current Council, seated after last November’s midterm elections, ushered in for the first time since 2018 a majority that is not aligned with Better Cupertino, a local anti-development advocacy group. As two Better Cupertino-aligned members of the current Council, Liang Chao and Kitty Moore, were also subjects of these investigations, it is unclear how the District Attorney’s decision not to bring charges will influence their roles. Councilmembers Chao and Moore were both removed from their committee assignments at the same meeting the referral to the District Attorney’s office was made.