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Politics & Policy

Assembly race heats up as Haney accuses Campos of misleading voters with “Civil Rights Attorney” designation

David Campos poses outside his campaign office on Castro Street on November 10, 2021. | Camille Cohen

State Assembly candidate and Supervisor Matt Haney is accusing rival David Campos of "misleading" voters by identifying himself as a civil rights attorney and omitting any mention of his position as chief of staff for District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

In a letter to the California Secretary of State dated Dec. 24, attorneys representing Haney said Campos' ballot identification was "demonstrably false, would mislead the voters of AD 17, and must be rejected." But a subsequent letter dated Dec. 28 indicates that the Secretary of State would allow the ballot designation to remain, with Haney's team saying it would not take legal action in part because there was not enough time.

Campos told The Standard in early November that he was taking a leave of absence from Boudin's office. Boudin is facing a recall election and has been under heavy fire both locally and nationally for allegedly being soft on crime in a time of soaring overdose deaths and mounting worries about street crime.

In the Dec. 24 letter, Amber Maltbie of the law firm Nossaman LLP argued that there was no record of Campos acting as a civil rights attorney in recent years and noted that he had been a government official in Santa Clara County prior to taking the job with Boudin. The letter did not request that he be required to identify himself with Boudin, but rather that "civil rights attorney" was not accurate and he should instead use "lawyer" or "attorney" or "chief of staff."

Campos and Haney are candidates in a special election for the Assembly seat previously held by David Chiu, who is now San Francisco City Attorney.

"It's confusing and misleading for David Campos to completely omit his current occupation, Chief of Staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin, from his ballot designation and candidate statement. Why would he hide his actual job title from voters?" said Haney campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Power. 

Daniel Anderson, Campos' campaign manager, said they were aware of the letters sent by Haney's attorneys and responded to the Secretary of State with a memo outlining why the ballot identification they chose was accurate.

"David was hired by the district attorney’s office to be a civil rights attorney," Anderson said. "David is an attorney and the focus of his work is upholding the civil rights of San Franciscans."

Anderson denied that Campos' campaign was trying to distance him from Boudin, saying the chief of staff identification would not have listed any direct affiliation with the DA's office.

Anderson added in a statement: "Matt Haney is trying to reinvent himself as a corporate-friendly politician but this challenge of David Campos’ work as a Civil Rights Attorney is a deeply cynical move, even for Supervisor Haney."