Prosecuting Corruption and Corporate Crime

Chesa Boudin is committed to a criminal justice system that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected. As District Attorney, he will investigate and prosecute the rich and powerful who commit crimes. For far too long, corrupt politicians and wealthy companies that steal wages, pollute, and profit from suffering have been ignored.  Equal justice demands that they be held accountable.

The Problem

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office should enforce the laws equally, not simply prosecute whoever the police arrest. The SFDA Bureau of Investigations is under-staffed and under-resourced, and its work is poorly prioritized. Currently, much of the Investigations Division’s staff resources are committed to investigating and prosecuting low-level quality-of-life crimes.

This focus on street crime means we’ve failed to hold accountable people and corporations who abuse their power because they think they can operate above the law. A recent national survey found that 54% of people polled had experienced some form of corporate abuse in the last ten years—one or more instances of wage theft, predatory lending or debt collection, pollution-related health problems, or the like. We must stop employers from stealing wages from employees after an honest day’s work. We must stop politicians from abusing our trust by lying and concealing campaign finance violations or kickbacks. We must stop landlords from unlawfully evicting tenants, raising rents, and failing to make repairs. We must stop corporate executives from committing perjury by lying in sworn declarations and court proceedings. We must stop corporate polluters from harming our environment and the communities they operate in. We must stop pharmaceutical companies and couriers who profit from pain patients in our nation’s failed War on Drugs. And we must expand outreach so corporate abuse victims know help is available, and rebuild community trust in the District Attorney’s office.

Boudin’s Plan

 

  • Expand the DA Investigations Division’s capacity to investigate corruption and corporate crime: Investigate corporate boardrooms, not homeless people. Right now, DA investigators follow up on police reports, including interviewing witnesses to crimes and gathering written statements. DA investigators barely have the work-hours and staff-support to passively respond to the cases where police have already made arrests and written reports. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin would allocate more resources to white-collar corporate criminals and corrupt landlords, expanding investigative capacity. Complicated cases like wage theft and illegal dumping take more resources to investigate and prosecute. Lawyers, investigators, and paralegals will be redirected to hold accountable these powerful lawbreakers.

 

 

  • Aggressively prosecute wage theft in San Francisco to hold employers accountable and protect vulnerable workers. The 2017 report “Voices from the Corporate Enforcement Gap” found that 17% of low-wage workers have been illegally cheated out of pay; the 2018 report “Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages” found that over half of wage-theft claims since 2000 are from California. Everyone deserves to be paid what they were promised for a day’s work, and laws protect this promise. Yet grand wage theft, and grand theft of labor, are felonies that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has rarely, if ever, prosecuted. Worse, immigrant communities are most vulnerable as wage-theft victims, as employers misclassify undocumented workers as independent contractors, or engage in human trafficking to avoid paying workers at all. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin will work closely with the California Labor Commissioner’s office to identify wage-theft violations for criminal prosecution. This effort will hold guilty employers accountable and deter others from similar conduct.

 

 

  • Prosecute perjury when corporate executives choose greed over truth and lie to courts. Every company traded on a major stock exchange is doing business in San Francisco. When the District Attorney, the City Attorney, or the federal government bring civil or criminal litigation against a corporation, its executives are required to submit testimony via depositions, sworn declarations, or court appearances. When they lie, they abuse their power and the public’s trust by choosing profits over people. They are rarely held accountable, and this allows large companies to commit crimes such as wage theft and illegal dumping undeterred. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin will expand the DA Investigations Division’s capacity to investigate corporate perjury, and proactively initiate prosecutions to punish this greed and deter further abuses of the public trust.

 

 

  • Protect public health and conserve our planet by prosecuting environmental crimes. Many of our families came to San Francisco, and stayed here, because we love our city’s natural beauty. Now, the Bay Area faces heat waves, regional fires, dirty air, and climate change because big corporations are burning fossil fuels and abusing our planet. Sometimes they break our laws that protect our environment’s air, water, and soil, and we need a leader who will hold them accountable. This year the federal government filed new civil complaints against Tetra Tech for lying about its cleanup failures at the Hunter’s Point shipyard, America’s largest Superfund waste site, right here in SF. Two managers faced criminal prosecution and were convicted, but the corporation and its executives have avoided criminal prosecution, and the federal EPA’s civil enforcement actions declined by half from 2017 to 2018. Tetra Tech also claims to have cleaned up Treasure Island, so now thousands of homes are being built there, but longtime residents continue to raise health concerns. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin will take these problems seriously by prosecuting polluters for environmental crimes, including illegal dumping and cleanup fraud.

 

 

  • Refocus prosecutorial resources in the War on Drugs to stop abusive drug companies and their co-conspirator service-providers. The War on Drugs has failed, in part because it focuses on street level dealers and users while huge pharmaceutical companies market addictive opiate pain pills and bribe doctors to over-prescribe them. The drug manufacturers know these pills’ perils, and the shipping companies who transport them know that prescriptions are supposed to be required. Online drug resellers illegally send restricted drugs into San Francisco without checking for prescriptions, where they end up in the hands of street-level dealers and addicts. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin will move prosecutions up the supply chain, investigating pharmaceutical corporations and ancillary companies: online drugstores, online advertisers, couriers and transportation companies.

 

 

  • Stop pay-to-play politics in San Francisco by prosecuting corrupt politicians’ campaign finance violations. Of all the rich and powerful people who act like they can live above the law, elected officials are the worst because they’re paid with our tax dollars. Every time our electeds conceal payments they receive in exchange for official acts using their public office, our democracy is undermined. As District Attorney, Chesa Boudin will prosecute election fraud, bribery, illegal nepotistic acts, and violations of campaign finance laws. By holding violaters accountable, he will send a strong message that San Francisco demands fairness and forbids its leaders from favoring political players based on how much they can pay.