Voters have ousted Chesa Boudin as San Francisco’s district attorney.
Unlike California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his recent recall election, Boudin, also a Democrat, didn’t face any opponents. On June 7, San Francisco voters were simply asked to answer yes or no to the question, “Shall Chesa Boudin be recalled (removed) from the Office of District Attorney?”
With more than 61.3 percent of the voters selecting yes, San Francisco Mayor London Breed must now appoint an interim district attorney until Nov. 8, when a permanent replacement will be elected. The "no" votes totaled 40,921 (38.7 percent).
Boudin, a former public defender backed by left-wing billionaire George Soros, came under fire for failed progressive criminal justice reform policies that have led to a sharp increase in drug overdose deaths, homelessness, and thefts, including smash-and-grab robberies, car burglaries, shoplifting, and other property crimes.
Homicide rates and gun crimes have increased since Boudin took office. He has strived to end cash bail, reduce incarceration rates, and scrutinize police misconduct.
Boudin fired seven prosecutors on his second day on the job. In mid-December 2021, The Epoch Times reported that more than 50 prosecutors, support, and victim services staff had either been fired or had quit their jobs over Boudin’s progressive agenda.
A former prosecutor who produced a list of those who were fired or quit their jobs said at the time, “The office is imploding,” and requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.
The Recall EffortSeveral prominent Democrats have opposed Boudin, including Nima Rahimi, an attorney and executive board member of the California Democratic Party.
The San Francisco Board of Elections certified a petition on Nov. 9, 2021, to recall Boudin after a group called San Franciscans for Public Safety, led by Mary Jung, a former San Francisco Democratic Party chairwoman, and Andrea Shorter. The two launched the petition on April 28, 2021, and gathered about 83,000 signatures, well surpassing the 51,325 needed to force a recall election.
The group alleges in its official recall petition that Boudin failed to keep his promises to deliver criminal justice reform and police accountability.
“Boudin is not keeping San Francisco safe. He refuses to adequately prosecute criminals and fails to take the drug dealing crisis seriously. He doesn’t hold serial offenders accountable, getting them released from custody, and his response to victims is that ‘hopefully’ home burglaries will go down,” according to the petition.
Boudin dismissed the recall effort as "relying on false and disproven Republican talking points attempting to undo progress and take us backwards” in his May 2021 statement of defense.
He argued that “recalls are not political tools for people who lose elections” and that voters “thoughtfully and carefully elected” him because they support his work “to reform an unjust system that too often criminalized poverty, addiction, and mental illness; failed to hold violent police accountable; and targeted people of color.”
Boudin was elected in 2019 with 50.8 percent of the vote, defeating Suzy Loftus, who received 49.2 percent.
He said the “the old approaches” didn’t make the city safer but "ignored the root causes of crime and perpetuated mass incarceration.” He claimed that in his first year, he fought to expand support for crime victims, hold police accountable when they commit unnecessary violence, create an independent “innocence commission,” and establish an economic crimes unit to protect workers’ rights.
Boudin argued that “exploiting recalls for political purposes is an abuse of the process [that] disrespects the will of the voters, and costs taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Progressive PoliciesDeclaring that he didn’t want to prosecute minor offenses, Boudin has indicated that he wanted to shift the focus to more serious offenses and take on corporations. He has also suggested hiring public defenders as prosecutors.
Fentanyl DeathsIn San Francisco, fentanyl has claimed the lives of 131 people so far this year, according to data from the city’s chief medical examiner’s office, and nearly 1,100 have died from accidental fentanyl overdoses from January 2020 to April 2022, making up about 71 percent of the 1,544 total overdose deaths in that time period.
In 2021, fentanyl deaths in San Francisco surpassed COVID-19 fatalities.
The overdose rate is one of the worst in the state, despite the city spending more than $13 million to expand overdose prevention programs last year.
The drug epidemic is so rampant that Breed and other civic leaders have tried to skirt federal laws to create supervised facilities—otherwise known as shooting galleries—where intravenous drug addicts can shoot up under the watchful eye of medical professionals. The city approved the purchase of a building to open such a facility but hasn't actually done so.
Boudin and Breed have both been blamed for allowing the city’s infamous needle-strewn “Tenderloin” district to infect surrounding neighborhoods with open drug use and dealing.
Overdose death rates have surged since fentanyl appeared on the scene several years ago. Because of its potency and low cost, drug dealers have been mixing fentanyl with heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
The drug, called “China Girl," "China Town," or China White,” among other street names, is most often smuggled into the United States from China through Mexico and can be deadly in doses as low as two milligrams, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Socialist TiesBoudin once worked as a translator for Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chávez and co-wrote the book “Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chávez Talks to Marta Harnecker,” published in 2005. Boudin is credited on the book's cover.
In 2011, Boudin attained a law degree from Yale Law School and began working for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office the following year. Unlike other Soros-backed candidates, Boudin was a public defender and had never served as a prosecutor prior to being elected as San Francisco’s district attorney—a position Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón held from 2011 to 2019.
Radical ParentsBoudin was 14 months old in 1981 when his parents were arrested and imprisoned for their involvement in a botched attempt to rob an armored delivery truck in Nanuet, New York, about 35 miles north of New York City. They were getaway drivers for and members of the radical Marxist group Weather Underground, which orchestrated a failed heist in which two police officers and a Brinks security guard were killed.
His mother, Kathy Boudin, spent more than two decades in prison before she was released on parole in 2003. His father, David Gilbert, was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison but was released on parole in October 2021 after Boudin successfully lobbied disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to commute his sentence. Cuomo did so on his final day as governor in August 2021. Gilbert, now 76, served more than 40 years in prison.
Boudin was adopted and raised by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who were also members of Weather Underground, which sought to lead a violent communist revolution in America and bombed government buildings across the country.
Marxist RootsBoudin hails from a long line of Marxists.
Louis B. Boudin (1874–1952), Chesa’s great-grand-uncle, was a Jewish American writer, politician, and lawyer. Born Louis Boudianoff (Leib Budiansky) in Ukraine—then under the rule of Imperialist Russia—he was a Marxist theoretician best known for writing a two-volume history of the Supreme Court’s influence on the U.S. government, which was published in 1932.
The Boudin family immigrated to the United States in 1891 and settled in New York City. Louis studied law and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1898. He was a member of the Socialist Labor Party of America and the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance in the late 1800s. He left the Socialist Labor Party in 1899 and joined a dissident faction to help form the Socialist Party of America in 1901.
His grandfather Leonard Boudin (1912–1989) was a known civil rights lawyer, who represented Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro and Paul Robeson, an American entertainer who was denied a passport over his refusal to disavow membership in the Communist Party.