Four Indicted in “Pay-to-Play” Concealed Carry Bribery Scandal, Including Santa Clara Sheriff’s Captain

San Jose District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen announced the indictment of four people connected to the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department last week, claiming that they were involved in a corrupt “pay-to-play” bribery ring in which concealed carry permits would be granted in return for campaign contributions to Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Rosen alleges that Capt. James Jensen, attorney Christopher Schumb, attorney Harpaul Nahal and business owner Michael Nichols conspired with the CEO of a private security company to secure a $90,000 bribe in return for generous access to the department’s concealed carry permit authority.

My concern is not whether the sheriff grants many or few CCW licenses, but whether they are being granted or denied for the wrong reasons,” said Rosen.

Rosen’s indictment of the four individuals details considerable evidence revealing pay-for-play practices utilized by Captain Jensen and Schumb, who operated a political committee supporting Sheriff Smith’s re-election campaigns.

There have been concerns over the concealed carry permit practices used by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department before, with reports that the sheriff was only granting CCW permits to politically connected donors going back as far as 2011.

Pro-Second Amendment concealed carry laws would forbid this form of alleged corruption, as law enforcement agencies in “shall issue” states are forbidden from restricting permits from any lawful gun owner for arbitrary reasons.

Obtaining a concealed carry permit in California, which is a “may issue” state, is considerably difficult. Many sheriff’s departments are known for flagrantly corrupt practices in issuing permits, reserving the privilege for city employees, donors, and the politically connected elite. Gun rights advocates have documented the corrupt practices of many California law enforcement agencies, who often seek to stonewall concealed carry permit applications.