Recall Of S.F. D.A. Chesa Boudin Likely To Head To Voters, With Many More Signatures Submitted Than Needed

People from across the country have been pouring money into the recall for months, long before the campaign collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The recall has already gained national attention, with observers seeing it as a referendum on the progressive prosecutor and the larger criminal justice movement that accelerated after the police killing of George Floyd.

“It’s not just about him,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in politics. The recall “is about this larger criminal justice movement, and people on both sides know that.”

The Chronicle analyzed the campaign finances of two committees supporting the recall and two against it. The two pro-recall committees analyzed are San Franciscans for Public Safety Supporting the Recall of Chesa Boudin and the Committee Supporting the Recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and the anti-recall committees analyzed are San Franciscans Against the Recall and Friends of Chesa Boudin Opposing the Recall.

D.A. Recall
  • div">>Why a progressive prosecutor just left D.A. Chesa Boudin’s office and joined the recall effort
  • div">>Recall of S.F. D.A. Chesa Boudin likely to head to voters, with many more signatures submitted than needed

Though these are distinct committees, we combined their contributions to get a summary of who is funding both sides of the race. Both campaigns have been raising money for months — the bulk of which is often spent on advertisements and voter outreach — but Friday’s disclosure was the first to come after recall organizers hit a critical deadline to qualify for the ballot.

At this point in the campaign, it makes sense that the pro-recall side has more money, since they had to garner the support — from paid signature gatherers to campaign ads — to even get on the ballot, Levinson said.

Last month, the Safer SF Without Boudin campaign submitted 83,000 signatures to the Department of Elections— roughly 32,000 more than required to get on the ballot. If the department certifies the signatures this month, an election will likely be held in June and voters will be asked a simple yes or no question: Should Boudin stay in office?

If the majority chooses no, then Mayor London Breed — who has yet to take a position on the recall — will get to choose his replacement.

While last month’s signature deadline did not spur a flood of funding — about $17,000 combined was collected by both sides in the last two weeks — the pro-recall side attracted a higher number of individual donations from the month prior.

In October, there were 106 individual donations to the pro-recall side, double the number in September. All 106 donations were from individuals and smaller in size — averaging about $270 — compared with the large contributions from organizations.

Meanwhile, on the anti-recall side, the amount raised and the number of contributions was similar to the month prior. Julie Edwards, Boudin’s campaign manager, said she expects to see voters pay closer attention after the recall officially qualifies for the ballot and the election gets closer.

“There’s a lot of confusion about recalls, particularly given that we just went through one,” she said, referring to the unsuccessful recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I’m very sympathetic to folks who have a lot going on in their regular lives and who are not paying attention to these endless elections outside of the regular cycle.”

Boudin, a former public defender, was elected in November 2019 as part of a wave of progressive prosecutors across the country who have promised to unwind tough-on-crime policies that have disproportionately impacted people of color.

Since taking office, Boudin has been a polarizing figure in San Francisco: While his detractors say his policies have exacerbated the city’s high rates of property crime, his supporters say investing in social services and restorative justice is the best way to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.

This is the second effort to recall Boudin. An initial effort failed this summer, after organizers did not get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by the deadline.

Andrea Shorter, organizer of the current effort, said people who want to sign the recall petition continue to reach out to her, even though the deadline passed last month.

“Our campaign has a lot of momentum on our side, and support is growing citywide every day to recall the D.A.,” she said.

The bulk of the money on the pro-recall side — 69% — has come from organizations, while 31% is from individuals. David Sacks, a partner at Craft Ventures and former PayPal executive, is the largest individual contributor to the the first recall campaign, with $75,000 in donations.

A super PAC called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy accounted for the vast majority of the funding for the recall effort.

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The super PAC has not disclosed its donors since June, and is not required to do so until next year. That means it’s unclear who has poured money into the PAC since this summer. But according to the recall campaign website, the biggest donors to the PAC include Steven Merrill of Marco Ventures and William Oberndorf, a hedge fund investor, who is also a big donor to Republican candidates on the federal level.

Shorter said there is a “tired talking point” that the recall is a Republican-led effort. While the recall has been endorsed by the San Francisco Republican Party, she said the majority of the supporters are Democrats from all around San Francisco.

“Republicans are concerned and Democrats are concerned,” she said. “They are supporting this effort for the same issues, in terms of the performance of this district attorney and public safety.”

Meanwhile, the balance is reversed for the two anti-recall campaigns — 72% of the amount raised is from individual contributions, while 28% is from organizations and PACs. The biggest individual donor is tech investor Chris Larsen, with $100,000 contributed against the recall.

One of the biggest organizations is the Real Justice PAC, whose contributors include Patty Quillin, the wife of the billionaire co-founder of Netflix.

A look at where individual donors to both campaigns live suggests that people across the state — and the country — are paying attention: 21% of the amount raised by the anti-recall side came from California residents who live outside of San Francisco, compared to 8% for the pro-recall campaign.

On the other side, 9% of the amount raised by the anti-recall side came from out of state compared with 13% for the pro-recall side.

As the campaign ratchets up over the next few months, Levinson said she wouldn’t be surprised if the number of donors across the country increased.

“We’re really viewing this recall as a bellwether,” she said. “Other groups are going to look to see if this recall is successful, and then see who else can be targeted.”

Trisha Thadani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected], [email protected] Twitter: @TrishaThadani, @namisumida

Source : https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Recall-effort-against-San-Francisco-D-A-Chesa-16604187.php

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