By Linh Nguyen
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Man Kit Lam, the victim in a petition meddling case, is asking San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin to recuse himself from the case and pass it on to the California Attorney General because petitions to recall the DA were involved.
Lam was a volunteer in a campaign to recall three members of the San Francisco Board of Education. On May 30, 2021, at a farmers’ market in the Richmond District, a bystander allegedly stole a petition with signatures, which is a misdemeanor under California election law.
Lam’s attorney, Paul D. Scott, wrote a letter to Boudin, asking him to voluntarily recuse himself from the case due to a conflict of interest—Lam also had two petitions to recall Boudin at the table.
The suspected thief also allegedly signed a fake name on one of the petitions, the one to recall Boudin, which is a felony under California law. This contributes to Lam’s request for Boudin’s recusal, suggesting the suspect’s crime could have benefited Boudin.
Scott wrote that the handling of this case will impact “the public’s perception of the integrity of the government. In these circumstances, where the conduct at issue is of paramount public importance, the law plainly requires that you be recused.”
While no arrests have been made yet, the suspect is believed to be a former employee of the Jewish Vocational Services in San Francisco.
Lam was a former investigator for the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong. He began volunteering for the school board recall on behalf of his son, who is a student of the San Francisco Unified School District.
His son has been struggling with distance learning. Lam is now an enrollment investigator at SFUSD and has access to data regarding learning loss due to a “distracted school board.”
In fact, two SFUSD reports show that COVID-19 negatively impacted students’ academic performances in math and reading.
Mayor London Breed responded to the incident.
“This citizen initiative process is an important part of our democracy, and people should be free to gather signatures for any initiative free of fear of harm or harassment. Any attempt to subvert this process should be investigated and taken seriously,” said Jeff Cretan, Breed’s spokesperson.
The recall campaigns for Boudin and the school board must gather 51,325 signatures each, which is 10 percent of registered voters in San Francisco, in order to qualify for a citywide election.
The school board recall is targeting Board President Gabriela Lopez, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison Collins. That campaign must meet the signature threshold by Sep. 7, 2021. This campaign has collected more than 20,000 signatures so far.
There are two active petitions to recall Boudin. The first, which was launched March 2021, must reach the signature threshold by Aug. 11 and the second campaign must reach the threshold by Oct. 25.