As San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin faces a recall election in two months, out-of-state and legal profession donors have chipped in big to keep him in office.
Boudin, a former public defender and son of incarcerated parents, was elected in late 2019 on a progressive platform to reduce the prison population and prosecute police misconduct.
The recall in one of the most liberal cities of the country is viewed by many as a referendum on the progressive prosecutor movement in an era of rising crime.
During the first quarter of 2022, two political committees supporting Boudin raised $96,500 from donors who gave more than $1,000, nearly a quarter of money from out of California, according to campaign finance disclosure statements filed with the San Francisco Ethics Commission.
The Epoch Times took out of the calculation two $50,000 donations between the committees.
On Mar. 16, Friends of Chesa Boudin Opposing Recall Committee donated $50,000 to San Franciscans Against the Recall of Chesa Boudin Committee, which donated the same amount right back to the former committee on the same day, according to disclosure statements.
Most out-of-state donors hail from the east coast, including New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Almost half of the donors who gave more than $1,000 in support of Boudin work in legal professions, mostly criminal defense attorneys and civil rights litigators.
San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez and Superior Court judge A James Robertson II also both chipped in $1,000.
According to the San Francisco Ethics Commission, when political committees receive more than $1,000 from a single source in 90 days leading up to the elections, they must file a disclosure statement within 24 hours.
Both committees supporting Boudin had a combined balance of $287,227 at the beginning of the year, according to disclosure statements.
The Real Justice PAC, which sponsors San Franciscans Against the Recall of Chesa Boudin Committee, has framed the recall as part of a nationwide radical, right-wing effort to undo the progressive agenda.
Since 2017, Real Justice PAC has endorsed 43 progressive prosecutor candidates across the country and helped 21 get elected, including Boudin, according to its website.
On the other hand, Boudin recall effort leaders Mary Jung and Andrea Shorter—both longtime local Democratic activists—have described their campaign as a Democratic-led, apolitical movement to make San Francisco a safer place for all residents.
Boudin pushes for policies that keep as many people out of jail or prison as possible, such as limiting cash bail and sentencing enhancements. His term, coinciding with the pandemic years, has been marked by an uptick in property crimes such as car thefts and burglaries as well as homicides, according to San Francisco police data.
Four committees supporting a recall had a combined balance of $146, 978 at the beginning of 2022.
The most active committee, San Franciscans for Public Safety Supporting the Recall of Chesa, raised $121, 250 from donors who gave more than $1,000 during the first quarter of 2022, according to disclosure statements.
All but one donor live in California. Most work at tech companies or investment businesses.
Garry Tan, a capital fund partner and the largest donor supporting recall in 2022, just pledged another $50,000 on April 2, making his total contribution $100,000.
“I am not a Republican,” Tan wrote on his Twitter announcing the new pledge. “I am a Chinese-American who grew up in the Bay Area. Our children and our elders deserve better than what the extremist SF machine is doing to us.”
So far this year, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco PAC chipped in $28,250 to recall Boudin.
The PAC was the largest contributor to the effort in 2021, getting most of its money from San Francisco-based Republican hedge fund manager and philanthropist William Oberndorf, according to San Francisco Examiner.
A mid-March poll by EMC research found more than two-thirds of likely voters say yes to recalling Boudin. Sixty-four percent of the recall supporters are Democrats.
The poll was commissioned by the recall campaign.
A newer EMC poll on behalf of the Bay Area Council finds that 64 percent of residents believe it is on the wrong track—the record high in the poll’s eight-year history.
The residents’ top three concerns are homelessness, housing, and crime.