The effort to recall DA Chesa Boudin splits into two enemy groups that are taking public potshots at each other, while recall opponents have raised more than twice as much money as the recallers.
It seems our initial impression was wrong that the Recall Chesa Boudin movement would be largely funded by one wealthy tech donor. Now that we’re a few months into the effort to recall the famously progressive district attorney, the recall attempt has evolved into a cat-herding effort of two now-rival groups that have taken to publicly feuding with one another on Twitter, and in snippy quotes to the SF Examiner.
The original Recall Chesa Boudin effort that kicked off in March is led by repeatedly-unsuccessful Republican electoral candidate Richie Greenberg, pulled the $25,000 contribution from founding PayPal COO David Sacks we reported on in March, and has since pulled $50,000 from Chicago real estate investor Daniel O’Keefe, plus another $10,000 from cryptocurrency mogul Jesse Powell. That effort has raised about $187,000 as of May 15, according to SF Ethics department filings, but the fact it’s led by Republican Greenberg, and that top donor David Sacks gladly appears on Tucker Carlson’s show makes it exceedingly easy to stereotype this as a right-wing campaign.
The newer rival recall campaign Safer SF Without Boudin purports to be more of a Demoratic-led effort, only started in late April, and has thus far raised just shy of $20,000 (again, as of May 15) per SF Ethics filings. But as you see in the graphic above, their website claims to have scored much larger contributions than anything currently listed at the very financial disclosures website they reference. It’s totally possible that they do indeed have these contributions, as the public reporting process does have some lag time.
DO NOT DONATE to the Recall Chesa Boudin recall that is out there right now— garrytan.eth 🦇🔊 (@garrytan) March 26, 2021
It's run by someone who has no shot (lone wolf Republican in SF, no political org)— mainly trying to get it done in time for the recall of Gavin Newsom
It's the wrong move. There's a better one coming.
And their current largest donor — who we can verify gave them $10,000, and they claim has given them $50,000 — has taken to Twitter to proclaim “DO NOT DONATE to the Recall Chesa Boudin recall that is out there right now. It's run by someone who has no shot (lone wolf Republican in SF, no political org)— mainly trying to get it done in time for the recall of Gavin Newsom. It's the wrong move. There's a better one coming."
I voted for @NancyTungSF https://t.co/WWMXboVnqY— garrytan.eth 🦇🔊 (@garrytan) January 2, 2021
But here’s kind of a tell. Tan supported Boudin’s rival Nancy Tung in the 2019 DA election. The Democatic recall Boudin effort may just be a collection of disaffected Suzy Loftus and Nancy Tung supporters who want a do-over on their loss to him in 2019.
SIGNATURES GALORE: Volunteers were out this weekend with great enthusiasm. If you haven’t yet signed, you can get the petition online at https://t.co/QAgpFgHa56 to print, sign and mail it. pic.twitter.com/8LZDnP87Bm— Recall Chesa Boudin Official Petition Committee (@recallsfda) May 24, 2021
Greenberg’s Republican effort is furious at the public potshots. “There’s a lot of very strange things coming out of that effort there that are trying to make our effort look bad which does not make sense,” Greenberg told the Examiner. “Why would they want us to shut down? What would make sense would be if they help us, and if we don’t succeed by (the deadline for signature gathering), then they pick up and do their own effort. Instead they are doing a parallel effort. It’s just so shady.”
Meanwhile, two separate campaigns supporting Boudin and fighting the recall have raised more than $500,000, according to SF Ethics filings — vastly more than the combined $200,000 of the two recall efforts. A PAC called Friends of Chesa Boudin Opposing the Recall has raised $268,000 (with $100,000 from Ripple founder Chris Larsen, plus big money from unions, $40,000 from SEIU Local 1021 Candidate PAC, and $5,000 from UESF PAC). A separate San Franciscans Against the Recall of Chesa Boudin sponsored by Real Justice PAC, which got $100,000 for a George Gascón-affiliated PAC, currently stands at $232,000.
It’s important to note that neither Recall Chesa Boudin has actually made the ballot yet, they’re just glorified signature-gathering campaigns that hope to make the ballot. They’re very good at making headlines, but it’s yet to be seen whether they are any good at recalling district attorneys.
The Examiner argues that a 1983 effort to recall Dianne Feinstein “set Feinstein up to sail to victory in her next election.” That’s such a different era that comparisons are tricky. But keep in mind that these political action committees (PACs) can keep any unused money and roll it over into the next election. Should he not be recalled, Boudin is up for reelection again in 2023.
The two fighting recall efforts, ironically, could be helping to build Chesa Boudin's 2023 reelection war chest by mounting recall efforts against him.
Related: '60 Minutes+' Asks SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin About Crime, and Releasing Repeat Offenders [SFist]