In yet another case of a recall campaign being largely financially dependent on an individual tycoon, a third of the money going to the Chesa Boudin ouster attempt is financed by “PayPal Mafia” investor David Sacks.
It’s starting to feel like it will always be election season in California, because after our elections are over, recall campaigns will quickly spring up attempting to undo those election results. San Francisco is currently living though two recall campaigns (and they’re also trying to recall our former DA George Gascón down in LA), but locally, we’re affected by the Recall Gavin Newsom measure at the state level, and the Recall Chesa Boudin effort at the San Francisco district attorney level.
These recall efforts are largely funded by political action committees (PACs) which are not subject to the normal $500 candidate contribution limit, allowing very wealthy people tremendous influence to clog your mailbox with flyers and TV ads. Recall money tends to flow primarily from individual tycoons, as we learned in January that a Recall Gavin PAC was primarily funded by just one guy. We see a similar situation with the attempt to recall Boudin, as the Chronicle reports that a third of the Recall Chesa Boundin contributions are from one tech investor, David Sacks.
Recall Chesa Boudin and run a Save SF slate for Board of Supes.— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) November 24, 2020
SFist readers may remember this very David Sacks as the guy brought in to clean up the toxic workplace at sex and booze in the hallways startup Zenefits, and by all accounts, he was considered successful in this regard. He’s generally more famous in the tech industry for being a member of the Silicon Valley founder clique “PayPal Mafia,” a (shocker! all-male) club of elites that also included Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. He wrote a book with Thiel in 1995 called The Diversity Myth [quote: “The purpose of the rape crisis movement seems as much about vilifying men as about raising 'awareness'"], for which he has since apologized. These days his politics seem techno-libertarian, Recode reports he gave to both the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012 and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. Yet these days he is a friend of the Tucker Carlson TV program and occasional invoker of the evils of George Soros. He does a podcast with the Bitcoin billionaire who aspires to replace Gavin, Chamath Palihapitiya, so he’s from a school of thought that argues familiarity with Clubhouse and crypto makes “angel investors” more qualified to choose government officials than, say, the voters.
Looks like Chesa has some pretty big donors too, and some of them are even scary tech people!https://t.co/hPxkEN3IlL— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) March 26, 2021
Sacks himself did not comment for the Chronicle piece, but he’s had plenty to say on Twitter since it’s publication. “This is for Sheria’s wife, Hanako’s mom, and all the other victims of the radical decarceration agenda that is making San Francisco and California less safe,” and adding. “Looks like Chesa has some pretty big donors too, and some of them are even scary tech people.”
He has a point there. Boudin’s 2019 campaign was also supported by a PAC that took a roughly $30,000 contribution from Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and his wife. Sacks’ donation here is $25,000 of the total $75,000 raised thus far, but it’s early in the campaign too — if you would even call it a campaign at this point, it’s really currently an aspirational signature-gathering effort.
Despite the billionaire Batman fantasies, most categories of violent crime are down under Boudin’s tenure. (Burglary and auto theft are up, though). But it’s something of an image problem in this town that a Republican also-ran is running the Recall Chesa Boudin campaign. And it certainly seems not-grassroots when a top Silicon Valley investor who goes on Tucker Carlson is bankrolling the campaign to a significant percentage.