By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – The narrative told to the voters was that Brooke Jenkins resigned from her job with the San Francisco DA’s Office to volunteer and work for the recall against Chesa Boudin. But in a bombshell story reported first by the San Francisco Standard, Jenkins was a paid consultant and earned more than six figures as a consultant for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco.
That nonprofit “shares an address and virtually the same name as the organization behind the district attorney’s recall but is legally a separate entity. A board member for both groups was also one of the biggest funders supporting the recall,” the Standard reported.
On Monday, Jenkins filed her papers to run for election in November to fill out Chesa Boudin’s term that expires at the end of 2023.
The release explains, “Jenkins resigned from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in October of 2021 because she felt public safety was not being prioritized.”
The release claims, “Brooke is dedicated to advancing real restorative justice and criminal-justice reform while ensuring San Francisco’s diverse voices are heard by restoring accountability and faith in our criminal justice system.”
As assistant district attorney, “Jenkins has witnessed firsthand the disproportionate effect of our criminal justice system on people of color, low-income individuals, and those experiencing homelessness. She understands the need for progressive reforms to improve our imperfect criminal justice system and the urgency to bring back accountability and consequences to help restore safety.”
The problem for DA Jenkins is now she is tied in with, among others, billionaire William Oberndorf.
In an interview with the New York Times during the recall, Chesa Boudin noted, “I had a meeting in 2019 with one of the major donors to the recall. His name was William Oberndorf. At that meeting — I was running for district attorney — he said he would support me if I would oppose San Francisco’s sanctuary-city policy. I said I couldn’t do that. He got very angry, and when someone has the kind of money that he has, he can express his anger in a recall context, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
The Times noted, “When reached for comment, Oberndorf strongly disputed Boudin’s recounting of their meeting and said that he never suggested any sort of quid pro quo regarding sanctuary-city policy and his support of Boudin.”
But what we do know for certain is that over the past two years, according to the SFGATE, “Oberndorf has been the biggest donor to the Neighbors for a Better San Francisco super PAC, which has spent just over $1.8 million on pushing the Boudin recall, of which over $900,000 came from Oberndorf.”
SFGATE notes that “Oberndorf has given millions to national Republicans,” though he has given some to Democrats who support charter schools, one of his big causes.
The funding appears now to directly tie Jenkins to the recall effort.
The Standard notes, “The nonprofit that paid Jenkins, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, is not allowed to participate in campaigns for or against political candidates because of its status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“The organization appears to be the nonpartisan counterpart of the group behind the recall, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy, which as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit can legally get involved in political campaigns and causes.”
They add, “Though legally separate, the nonprofits are both registered at the same address belonging to a law firm in San Rafael, according to IRS records.”
Moreover, “The Neighbors advocacy nonprofit is listed as the sponsor for the big spending political action committee by the same name that raised some $4.8 million of the $7.1 million contributed to oust Boudin from office.”
The DA has put an emphasis on cleaning up the Tenderloin and its open air drug markets.
Former DA George Gascón is skeptical of the effort.
He explained, “What people who have been in San Francisco for a long time forget is that this has been this way for generations and we have tried to arrest our way out of that—with complete failure.”
“The new DA says they will start arresting people there, she will end up in the same place,” Gascón said. “You know the reason why, because until you attend to the social issues and the lack of housing and the lack of treatment, you can arrest people today and they will be cycling in and out. You can arrest drug dealers and there will be another group of young kids who will come in the next day to sell drugs because the demand is high and the amount of drugs is very high.”
He argued, “It’s foolish to think that you can clear out the Tenderloin by arresting your way out of there.”