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