OAKLAND — One out of every three dollars given last year to the recall campaigns targeting Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price came from a single Bay Area hedge fund partner who also gave money to help oust San Francisco’s top prosecutor in 2022, campaign finance records filed this week show.
The haul — totaling $390,000 as of Dec. 31 — from Farallon Capital Management partner Philip Dreyfuss dwarfed the total from nearly every other known contributor, according to the new filings.
In all, two groups seeking to oust Price, who took office early last year, raised nearly $1.2 million combined in 2023. The money has so far largely been spent on signature gatherers working to get enough support to put the recall before voters later this year.
Carl Chan, who is helping to organize the recall, framed the totals as being on pace with their goal of raising enough money to help pay for the signature-gathering phase of the recall effort.
Most people donating “are saying that public safety is the primary concern, and that’s the reason they want to put in money and make these changes,” said Chan, an Oakland Chinatown leader.
Those figures contrast with the roughly $82,000 raised in 2023 by Protect The Win, the campaign seeking to keep Price in office. Price’s own re-election campaign raised $53,000 last year and gave about $17,000 of that to the Protect the Win group.
Price’s supporters blasted the recall’s organizers for relying financially on a batch of real estate moguls and well-heeled members of the technology industry. In a statement, the group stressed that “being rich should not grant one the authority to override the collective decision of the electorate.”
Nearly two-thirds of the contributions given to Safe Alameda For Everyone, the official outfit organizing the recall effort, came from a group called Supporters of Recall Pamela Price, which supplied $694,000 through Dec. 31. Campaign records show Dreyfuss supplied that group with more than half of its money, a total of roughly $390,000 in donations and loans.
Since Jan. 1, Supporters of Recall Pamela Price has given more than $500,000 of its money to the SAFE group, upping its overall contributions to SAFE to at least $1.3 million. The group was formerly known as Reviving the Bay Area.
Dreyfuss, a graduate of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, joined Farallon Capital in 2011 and went to work as a partner in the firm’s arbitrage group, according to Farallon’s website. He previously was an associate at Bain Capital Partners working on private equity investments and also spent time as a health care-focused management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.
Public records show the 40-year-old has recent addresses in Piedmont and Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood. Recent voter data shows he doesn’t list a party preference. Dreyfuss previously took an interest in Bay Area politics a few years ago when he donated $10,000 to the effort aimed at helping to successfully boot San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin from office.
Supporters of Recall Pamela Price appear to have a near-laser focus on removing the district attorney from office, having funneled money to the recall campaign in all but one instance. A notable exception came late in 2023 when the group donated $25,000 to Schools over Stadiums, a Nevada-based outfit organized by teachers that wants voters to decide whether $380 million in taxpayer money should be used for a new Oakland A’s stadium in Las Vegas.
Attempts by the Bay Area News Group to reach Dreyfuss by phone, email and at his home were not successful. A message was not returned by a principal for Supporters of Recall Pamela Price.
There are other examples of well-heeled business executives opening their wallet for recalls. In one instance, a wealthy developer named Bill Gallaher pumped at least $1.7 million into a recall campaign targeting Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, according to The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Ravitch had previously sued Gallaher over allegations he left elderly people in two care homes to fend for themselves during the 2017 Tubbs Fire, the newspaper reported.
That so much money would come from a single person was unsurprising to observers.
“That seems to be kind of the playbook out there. It can come down to one wealthy individual who can put these things over the top,” said Jim Ross, an Oakland-based political consultant who worked on Boudin’s campaign during his recall. “It just takes one rich guy — you get one person with money, and you have a recall.”
The fundraising push comes as recall organizers zero in on their goal of collecting 110,000 signatures from Alameda County residents to qualify for putting a Price recall question before voters. County law requires them to collect slightly more than 73,000 valid signatures, though campaign experts generally suggest turning in far more signatures to account for duplicates and other signature-gathering errors.
A mix of real estate firms and tech companies and employees of those industries, along with former district attorneys and prosecutors, dominate the list of contributors to the recall effort, campaign finance filings show.
Holland Residential — a Vancouver, Wash.-based apartment complex owner with properties in Pleasanton, San Francisco and San Jose — donated $49,000 to the Supporters of Recall Pamela Price group. Another real estate firm, The Martin Group of Companies, donated $40,000 to the group, while HP Investors, LLC added $25,000 to its coffers.
Carl Bass, the former Autodesk CEO whose X account lists him as “radical moderate politically,” donated $30,000. A company he owns and co-founded, Flying Moose, also chipped in $30,000.
Hundreds of people gave directly to the recall effort, including $5,000 each from the past two Alameda County district attorneys, Nancy O’Malley and Thomas Orloff.
Other large donors to the recall effort included Piedmont retiree Eric Sullivan, who gave $10,000 last year and James Ellis, a past President of Berkeley Real Estate Associates, who pitched in $9,999, as did the Walnut Creek construction company WCI-GC, Inc. David Scott Ruegg, who co-founded the San Francisco company Skyline Pacific Properties, gave $9,950, while Courtney Sukhar, owner of Quality Scales Unlimited, gave $9,000.
Price’s own employees were among the largest contributors to the group seeking to keep her in office.
Raymond Landry — who works with Price’s boyfriend, Antwon Cloird, on a team that identifies candidates for early release from incarceration — gave $7,500 last year to the Protect the Win group. The only person to give more was Texas state Rep. Maria Luisa Flores, of Austin, who gave $10,000.
A statement by the Protect the Win campaign called the recall effort an “undemocratic” attempt to kick Price out of office, led by real estate and technology investors, “alongside a faction of election deniers.”
“Any effort to overturn the election should be assessed critically to ensure that it reflects the genuine will of the people, rather than being influenced by the undue financial influence of a select few,” the group’s statement said.