Chesa Boudin and His Supporters Seize On Revelation About Brooke Jenkins’s Recall Payday: ‘Integrity Is Central to the Job of DA’

10 AUGUST 2022/SF POLITICS/JAY BARMANN (SFist.com)

The dirty secret about District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’s paid involvement in the campaign to oust her predecessor and former boss, Chesa Boudin, was bound to come out eventually. And it’s now come out two days after Jenkins formally filed paperwork to run for the DA’s job in November.

Reactions are coming swiftly and tersely from the progressive supporters of former DA Chesa Boudin, and from Boudin himself today, after Jenkins revealed in an ethics filing with the city that she had been paid over $100,000 for consulting work, including a significant payment by a group that largely funded the “Yes on H” recall campaign.

The same website that enthusiastically covered Jenkins’s performative press conference on Monday announcing her candidacy on the November ballot, The San Francisco Standard, broke the story Tuesday night about Jenkins’s payments from the recall campaign. Jenkins previously stated she had volunteered on the campaign, and is now backpedaling by saying she “provided consulting services for a few San Francisco based non-profit organizations” after resigning from the DA’s office — ostensibly in protest of Boudin’s policies as a prosecutor. “I leveraged my career and prosecutorial experience to help provide a new source of income to help support my family and small children,” is how Jenkins puts it.

Boudin has weighed in on Twitter, saying today, “Integrity is central to the job of District Attorney. If jurors can’t trust your word, they won’t convict. The relationships with judges and defense counsel and victims are all built on integrity.   Lying to get ahead destroys the trust we need to make SF safer.”

Rachel Marshall, who previously worked as Boudin’s communications advisor, tweeted last night, “Jenkins intentionally misled SF voters & improperly garnered public trust by claiming she was a campaign volunteer.” And Marshall repeated what she told the Chronicle: “This behavior — by someone now appointed as a chief law enforcement officer — reeks of dishonesty, a lack of transparency, and corruption.”

Marshall also tweeted, “SF has been played.”

It’s not clear that Jenkins lied to anyone or did anything illegal, and as recall supporter, former SF supervisor and retired judge Quentin Kopp tells the Chronicle today, “She wouldn’t be the first candidate for office who didn’t disclose all relevant facts pertaining to any campaign issue.”

The question is one of ethics and integrity, and this is certain to be a stain on Jenkins when it comes time for an opponent to campaign against her in November — and Boudin has already said that he will not be running for the job this year, though he might again next year when his first term would have been up.

There’s also a nugget in the Chronicle’s follow up that hints at the fact that London Breed could be royally pissed about this revelation. A spokesperson for the mayor, Parisa Safarzadeh, said she was not “fully aware” whether Breed knew about the paid relationship between Jenkins and conservative recall backer William Oberndorf when she chose Jenkins as interim DA.

But, Safarzadeh said, “The important thing is that the District Attorney disclosed it in her form,” and the mayor allegedly “has faith Brooke will be an amazing district attorney and will do a great job.”

Supervisor Dean Preston, who is the chair of the Board of Supervisors’ government audit and oversight committee, tells the Chronicle that he isn’t planning any hearings on this matter, but he’s thinking about “whether there are any more limits we could impose on funneling this kind of money to impact races without disclosing.”

Referring to the Oberndorf-funded group that backed the recall and paid Jenkins her fee, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy, Preston says, “I think there are serious questions about why someone who is district attorney has taken money from this entity, given its politics.”

10 AUGUST 2022/SF POLITICS/JOE KUKURA

New DA Brooke Jenkins Got $100,000 From Anti-Boudin Political Organization

Nice “volunteer” work if you can get it! Brooke Jenkins claimed she was a volunteer for the recall campaign, but new campaign finance filings show she was paid a cool $100,000 as a consultant to a group that largely financed the recall.

It sure seemed peculiar back last autumn, when then-prosecutor Brooke Jenkins quit the DA’s office very publicly (and got a glowing Heather Knight column by doing so), and then Jenkins went straight to doing talk shows like Real Time with Bill Maher. Jenkins also appeared in recall TV ads, though was always described as a “volunteer” for the recall Chesa Boudin campaign.

It was also something of a shock after the recall of Boudin, when Mayor London Breed named Jenkins as Boudin’s replacement, as Jenkins seemed a dark horse candidate with little management experience.

Now it seems some of these developments may have been related. The SF Standard dropped a bombshell Tuesday night that Jenkins had actually been paid $100,000 “as a consultant” for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a political  organization that made significant contributions to the recall Boudin campaign.

This is the same Neighbors for a Better San Francisco that SFist reported in February is actually based in San Rafael.

“Jenkins earned the six-figure salary in the roughly six months before Mayor London Breed appointed her district attorney on July 8, according to a spokesperson for the DA and a form she filed this week reporting her economic interests,” the SF Standard reports. “This marks the first time Jenkins publicly disclosed the earnings from Neighbors for a Better San Francisco.”

DA Jenkins did acknowledge the previously undisclosed $100,000 pay on Tuesday night. “After I resigned from the District Attorney’s office, I provided consulting services for a few San Francisco based non-profit organizations,” Jenkins said in a statement to the Chronicle. “I leveraged my career and prosecutorial experience to help provide a new source of income to help support my family and small children. It was a tough decision to leave my dream career during a pandemic and rising economic uncertainty, but it was the right choice for my family and me.”

This was all handled legally, though with seemingly intentional opaqueness and sleight-of-hand. And it certainly smacks of backroom dealing, particularly in light of Jenkins now holding the office she’d “volunteered” so hard to get Boudin recalled from.

Screenshot: SF Ethics

First, yes, Jenkins was a volunteer with the official recall campaign, which was called Safer SF Without Boudin. She was paid the $100k by a nonprofit called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco. But that nonprofit also has a counterpart organization with the exact same address and almost the exact same name, called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy. As you see above, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy almost single-handedly funded the recall campaign, and was by far the largest donor in the June election.

As the Chronicle explains, “both [Neighbors for a Better San Francisco groups] are legally separate entities.” But they add that “William Oberndorf, a wealthy conservative hedge fund manager who bankrolled the recall, is on the board of each group.”

It also seems infuriating that this financial disclosure can come in so late, more than a month after the recall election. And yes, such delays are legal. But it feels like an intentional attempt to delay the disclosure of these contributions to the public, airing the dirty laundry after the election is over. Plus add in the revelation that Jenkins was paid $100,000 while describing herself publicly as a volunteer, and this  just does not smell right.

SFist can’t help but be reminded that last November, we reported that a Recall Boudin campaign’s spokesperson was being paid a gaudy $16,000 a month. Now we learn that its top volunteer was paid $100,000 over six months. It makes you wonder, if at the highest levels of the recall Chesa Boudin campaign, that it was never really about public safety.

Related: SF Recalls Largely Funded by ‘Neighbors for a Better San Francisco’ PAC, Which Is Based in San Rafael [SFist]

Image: Safer SF Without Boudin TV ad

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