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News + PoliticsGOP donors and allies pour more big money into the Chesa Boudin...

GOP donors and allies pour more big money into the Chesa Boudin recall

Trump and McConnell supporters put up $450,000 last month in money that's been moving through a series of front committees aimed at ousting the progressive DA.

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An astonishing $720,000 from just nine big contributors has poured into one of the committees seeking to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin in the past month – and more than half of the money comes from Republicans or people who donate heavily to the Republican Party.

Records just filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, and Federal Elections Commission documents, show that one of the biggest donors, William Duhamel, gave $100,000 to the recall. He also gave more than $100,000 to committees to keep the GOP in charge of the US Senate and was a big donor ($41,000) to the effort to keep Georgia in the Republican camp last year.

A rally against the recall.

Duhamel is managing partner at Route One Investment Company.

Paul Holden Spaht, managing partner at Thomas Bravo, also a finance outfit, gave $150,000. He’s a registered Republican.

Other big donors: Dede Wilsey ($50,000) who hosted a fundraiser for Donald Trump in 2019.

Together, GOP allies gave $450,000 in June to a committee called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco. Almost all of that money, records show, was then funneled to committees working on the recall.

The three major beneficiaries were San Franciscans for Public Safety, a committee run by real-estate lobbyist Mary Jung; San Francisco Common Sense Voter Guide, also run by Jung; and Stop All Asian Hate, a brand-new committee set up in July.

Money to the recall group also got more than $70,000 this spring from an older committee called Fed Up San Francisco – whose chief officer is also Mary Jung.

This is just the latest in a tangled web of money that is funding efforts to get the recall on the ballot.

Let’s be honest here: If you spend $2 million, which these committees are clearly prepared to do, you can put almost anything on the ballot. I have seen people gathering signatures outside of Safeway on Mission and 30th saying “sign here for a safer San Francisco.”

With this kind of backing, it’s likely we will actually have an election to recall the DA we just elected last year—a DA who has not been accused of any impropriety or scandal.

And that recall will be run by a real-estate lobbyist who was a big ally of Suzy Loftus, the candidate who lost to Boudin, and funded in significant part by Republicans.

You have to do a bit of digging in federal, state, and local records to get the full picture, but here’s how some of the money works:

Neighbors for a Better San Francisco was created in 2020 to oppose progressive candidates and ballot measures. One of the biggest donors was William Obendorf, who also gave more than $1 million to keep Mitch McConnell in control of the Senate. (You see the pattern here?)

The group was a spectacular failure: After spending some $3 million, it lost every contest.

After the 2020 election, the group still had $356,000 cash on hand. Remember: this was money raised to stop progressive candidates for supervisor and an increase in the real-estate transfer tax.

In January, 2021, state and local records show, Jung and treasurer Jesse Cheng set up the Common Sense Voter Guide, with the leftover money from Fed Up San Francisco, which has apparently folded since then.

Jung also helped create San Franciscans for Public Safety in April.

On June 10 and June 17, the Common Sense Group donated a total of $70,000 to the recall committee. That would have been all the money they had.

The next day, June 18, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco gave $150,000 to Common Sense and another $150,000 to Stop All Asian Hate.

Three days later, the recall committee got $100,000 in total from Common Sense, Stop All Asian Hate, and Neighbors.

The same day, Common Sense and Stop All Asian Hate gave $14,000 to the School Board recall campaign.

By the way, the assistant treasurer for all three committees is Patricia Mar, who works at a professional campaign finance consulting firm.

Between June 30 and July 9, Neighbors gave another $200,000 to the recall committee.

And now another $720,000 is pouring in.

Some of that money—$100,000—went to the Edwin Lee Democratic Club, probably for slate mailers. The rest all went to the recall or the Common Sense or Stop All Asian Hate.

Why all of this game of hiding the money, creating front committees, moving the big-donor cash around? If I were a cynical reporter, I would think that maybe the people trying to recall the DA don’t want the voters to realize that this is funded by people who support Trump, McConnell, and the GOP agenda, and run by a lobbyist for the real-estate industry.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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