That was the burning question Wednesday after ultra-liberal San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly to get rid of their soft-on-crime district attorney a little more than halfway through his first term.
Chesa Boudin’s landslide loss “should send a clear message across the nation — that serving as District Attorney yet not holding criminals accountable is a dereliction of duty,” a spokesperson for the recall effort, Richie Greenberg, tweeted.
Boudin was among a wave of progressive district attorneys elected in recent years, many with the help of at least $40 million in spending by billionaire financier George Soros, according to research by the nonprofit Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.
In New York City, Soros donated $1 million to embattled Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s campaign through the Color of Change political action committee, The Post reported last year, citing public records.
Although only 19 states — not including New York — and the District of Columbia allow recall elections, lawyer and former Manhattan federal prosector Richard Signorelli tweeted that Boudin’s ouster, which was approved 60% to 40%, “should be a wakeup call” for Bragg.
Other beneficiaries of Soros’ largesse include Chicago DA Kim Foxx and Philadelphia DA Larry Krassner, who — like Bragg — are also among the prosecutors most likely to face the voters’ wrath if the Golden Gate City turns out to be a trendsetter.
Here’s the potential scorecard:
Chesa Boudin, San Francisco
Sworn in: Jan. 8, 2020
Violent crimes: Up 4%, year to date
Property crimes: Up 8.2%, year to date
Total crime rate: Up 7.8%, year to date
Boudin was unapologetic after 60% of San Franciscans voted to oust him over his soft-on-crime policies were blamed for surges in shoplifting, open-air drug dealing and pandemic-related attacks on Asian-Americans.
“We know that people were writing the obituary of this election before our campaign even started,” he said during his concession speech, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But we are just getting started, because we knew that fixing a system that has systematically failed us — not just for decades, but for generations, for centuries — was not the work of one year or one term.”
Boudin, the son of convicted Weather Underground terrorists, also blamed his ouster on “right-wing billionaires” who “outspent us 3-to-1.”
“They exploited an environment in which people are appropriately upset,” he said. “And they created an electoral dynamic where we were literally shadowboxing.”
Alvin Bragg, Manhattan
Sworn in: Jan. 1, 2022
Major crime rate: Up 43.2%, year to date
Bragg was met with immediate outrage from law-enforcement officials, shopkeepers and others when he unveiled his “Day One” policies against locking up all but the most violent criminals and ordering prosecutors to downgrade some felony charges to misdemeanors on the first full workday after he took office.
The widow of NYPD cop Jason Rivera — who was killed with partner Wilbert Mora, while responding to a Jan. 21 domestic incident in Harlem — also lashed out at Bragg during her husband’s funeral at Manhattan’s famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“This system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service,” Dominique Luzuriaga told mourners from the pulpit. “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.”
Bragg, who later walked back two of his most controversial directives, claimed Tuesday to have not been paying attention to Boudin’s recall election.
George Gascon, Los Angeles
Sworn in: Dec. 8, 2020
Violent crimes: Up 7.7%, year to date
Property crimes: Up 13.3%, year to date
Total crime rate: Up 11.9%, year to date
One minute after taking office, Gascon, a former L.A. cop and police chief in Mesa, Arizona, ordered LA prosecutors to abandon the death penalty, stop adult prosecutions of juveniles and not seek enhanced sentences for repeat offenders and gang members under what he called his “visionary approach to criminal justice reform.”
An initial recall attempt was dropped in September, with organizers saying the COVID-19 pandemic and a “premature start” hampered their ability to collect signatures but a second effort was greenlit by the L.A. County Registrar of Voters’ Office in January, with a July 6 deadline to potentially put the plan up for a vote.
The union that represents about 800 L.A. prosecutors overwhelmingly endorsed the recall effort in February, with its president saying, “This vote is by those who are intimately familiar with how Mr. Gascón’s policies actually play out on a day-to-day basis.”
Deputy DA Jonathan Hatami also announced the formation of a pro-recall political action committee, accusing his boss of having “basically said wrongdoers will not be held accountable for their actions.”
Kim Foxx, Chicago (Cook County, Ill.)
First sworn in: Dec. 1, 2016
Major crime rate: Up 34%, year to date
Foxx promised that her first election as the state’s attorney for Cook County would be “the start of a journey to fix a broken system in need of repair.”
But a 2020 investigation by Chicago Tribune found that her primary tool appeared to be simply dropping nearly 30% of all felony cases, including alleged murders, a rate more than one-half higher than her predecessor’s.
Foxx also sparked controversy when she dismissed charges in the hate-crime-hoax case against actor Jussie Smollett in 2019, leading to a probe that found she lied to the public about her communications with his sister.
After Foxx recused herself and a special prosecutor reopened the case, Smollett was convicted and sentenced to 150 days in jail, leading Foxx to call it a “kangaroo prosecution” and “mob justice.”
In March, she also began seeking early release for inmates who’ve served at least 10 years of their sentences for crimes other than homicide or sex offenses, calling it an effort to “not just acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but try to correct them.”
Larry Krasner, Philadelphia
First sworn in: Jan. 2, 2018
Violent crimes: Up 6.3%, year to date
Property crimes: Up 27.1%, year to date
Total crime rate: Up 22.2%, year to date
Krasner, a former civil-rights lawyer who made his name suing the government on behalf of activists and protesters, became the country’s most progressive prosecutor after joking at a debate that “I’ve spent a career becoming completely unelectable.”
He took office vowing to begin “trading jails — and death row — for schools” and “trading division between police and the communities they serve for unity and reconciliation.”
But his first term was marked by the exodus of 261 prosecutors — including 70 he hired — and a record 562 homicides in the City of Brotherly Love last year.
Meanwhile, Krasner’s office opened just 22,939 cases in 2021, down 41% from 2017, the year before became DA.
“Turns out, Krasner is not a reformer so much as a non-prosecutor,” Larry Platt, a co-founder of The Philadelphia Citizen website, wrote after his re-election in November.
John Chisolm, Milwaukee
First sworn in: Jan. 9, 2007
Major crime rate: Down 6.3%, year to date
On his campaign website, Chisholm bills himself as “a bold reformer with a track record of keeping our community safe” who’s “created a nationally acclaimed community prosecution program that stations experienced prosecutors in neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee County, where they work with residents, businesses, and nonprofits to combat crime at the ground level.”
But while crime in the city is down this year, last year saw an overall surge of 26.4%.
And after Darrell Brooks allegedly killed five people by plowing his SUV into the Waukesha Christmas Parade on Nov. 21, it emerged that he’d been released from custody just 10 days earlier because one of Chisholm’s prosecutors recommended a mere $1,000 bail when Brooks was charged with using the same vehicle to run over a woman with whom he has a child.
“If Brooks had been kept in jail to protect the community from a dangerous career criminal, the carnage in Waukesha might have been avoided,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fumed in an editorial.
Seven state residents also filed a complaint demanding that Gov. Tony Evers fire Chisholm, but it was rejected in January for failing to meet the legal standards needed to initiate removal proceedings.
Kevin Hayden, Boston (Suffolk County, Mass.)
Sworn in: January 10, 2022
Violent crimes: Up 4.4%, year to date
Property crimes: Up 4.8%, year to date
Total crime rate: Up 4.7%, year to date
Hayden was appointed Suffolk County DA by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to replace former DA Rachael Rollins following her 51-50 confirmation by the U.S. Senate to be the state’s U.S. attorney.
When Rollins was sworn in as DA in 2019, she made waves by telling police chiefs in the crowd that she knew they were “nervous” about her opposition to mass incarceration, cash bail and mandatory minimum sentences — before adding that “nervousness is exactly what change needs.”
Hayden faces progressive Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary election and last month announced the DA’s Office would spend $400,000 in asset-forfeiture funds on diversion programs for drug-addicted and mentally ill defendants.
Hayden’s campaign website also touts his pilot “restorative justice” program, which spares some criminals time behind bars if they agree to do things like write letters of apology, make restitution, perform public service and engage in “reflective exercises.”
Kim Gardner, St. Louis
First sworn in: Jan. 6, 2017
Crime stats: Unavailable
Gardner, a former nurse-turned-assistant prosecutor and state representative, vowed to “expand the traditional role of the prosecutor” when she took office as St. Louis’s circuit attorney.
In 2019, that apparently led her to tweet, “Exactly,” when a city alderwoman said the fatal police shooting of a weed suspect who allegedly reached for a gun “never should have happened” — leading a police union official to call Gardner a “menace to society” who “needs to go.”
But Gardner’s most serious misstep involved her prosecution of former Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 after she dropped charges tied to his alleged affair with a hairdresser and his campaign’s fundraising efforts.
In April, Gardner struck a deal with the Missouri Office of Disciplinary Counsel over her mistaken claims that she gave Greitens’ lawyers all the evidence against him, which the agreement called “negligent or perhaps reckless, but not intentional.”
Although the deal calls for a public reprimand from the Missouri Supreme Court, grand jurors who indicted an investigator in the Greitens case called for stiffer punishment last month, calling Gardner’s conduct “reprehensible.”
Mike Schmidt, Portland, Oregon (Multnomah County)
Sworn in: Jan. 4, 2021
Crimes against persons: Up 3.7%, year to date
Property crimes: Up 34.7%, year to date
Total crime rate: Up 29.5%, year to date
Schmidt, who was acting district attorney for about five months before officially taking office, delivered an inauguration speech in which he said the protests over George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police “taught us lessons we should have learned decades ago, and we fail to internalize them at our peril. The first: Black Lives Matter. Again: Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.”
Schmidt also condemned the criminal justice system “as it is currently constituted,” saying that “we’ve implemented broken policies that have destroyed communities while failing to meaningfully deter crime.”
But less than four months later, Schmidt appeared to have grown fed up with the demonstrations, saying the “violence and property destruction we’ve seen…is unacceptable.”
More recently, a veteran child prosecutor resigned in a blistering, January 10 letter that said “women have been set back decades” in the DA’s Office under Schmidt’s leadership and also accused him of failing to live up to “a promise of transparency and legitimacy in decision making impacting the criminal justice system and internally within our office.”
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