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Politics & Policy

Tech boss tops list of donors to Breed’s March 2024 ballot measures

Chris Larsen, chairman of Ripple Labs, poses in a blue blazer at a Downtown location.
Chris Larsen, executive chairman of Ripple Labs, is throwing his support behind two contentious ballot measures. | Courtesy Ripple

Chris Larsen, executive chairman of Ripple Labs, tops the list of early donors to ballot measure campaigns for San Francisco’s March 2024 election, giving $350,000 to propositions supported by Mayor London Breed.

Larsen donated $250,000 to the campaign committee for Proposition E, a measure sponsored by Breed that would give police more leeway in adopting surveillance technologies, suspect pursuits and drone use. It would also require the Police Commission to seek more public input when making new rules for the police department. 

That measure is shaping up to be one of the most contentious on the March ballot, with the ACLU of Northern California giving $100,000 to defeat Prop. E. The San Francisco Police Officers Association and SV Angel Managing Partner Ron Conway, along with Larsen, have contributed to a $400,000 war chest in support of the measure.

Larsen also donated $100,000 to the committee for Proposition F, which would tie cash welfare payments to drug screening for some recipients. The proposal would require single adults receiving county assistance to engage in some form of treatment if a drug screening shows they are addicted to illegal drugs. 

In a phone interview with The Standard, Larsen said he made the donations at Breed’s request. 

“I think it's kind of readjusting where we went off track … When it comes to people dying on the street, with fentanyl and some of these new drugs which are even worse, we have to get a handle on that,” Larsen said of Prop. F. “We have to be compassionate, but we have a record number of people who have died this year again. We just cannot keep doing the same thing.”

Prop. F proved highly divisive at the Board of Supervisors, with some members slamming the proposal as cruel and punitive. Breed took the measure to the ballot after supervisors rejected it. Despite political controversy, the measure appears to be polling well among likely voters.

‘A Bunch of Bullshit’

Larsen has not ruled out more donations and offered a dim view of Proposition B, a police staffing mandate originally sponsored by Supervisor Matt Dorsey but commandeered in committee by Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. The final version was conditioned on new funding, likely a tax. Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan has kicked in $2,000 to a committee opposing Prop. B, and Dorsey himself has contributed as well. 

“It's a bunch of bullshit,” Larsen told The Standard. “A supervisor trying to run for mayor that did something that makes no fucking sense whatsoever. I'm not gonna support it because he broke it. Dorsey had the right idea.”

Supporters of Prop. B have formed a campaign committee, but it has not reported any donations so far. 

Other large donations for March ballot measures include $10,000 to the committee for Proposition G—a non-binding policy statement urging the return of algebra to San Francisco middle schools—by Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a group heavily involved in last year’s recall campaigns of District Attorney Chesa Boudin and three members of the San Francisco Board of Education. 

Developer Wilson Meany and Clark Pacific Construction Company donated $5,000 each to the committee for Proposition A, a $300 million general obligation bond for affordable housing. 

Larsen also made a $50,000 donation to Democratic County Central Committee candidate Marjan Philhour, who is also running for supervisor in District 1 in November. Larsen’s is the largest donation in that race by far.

Other notable donations in the central committee race include $10,000 from Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear—who recently had a blink-and-you-missed-it tenure as CEO of OpenAI—to candidate Bilal Mahmood. 

Donations over $5,000 to political campaign committees must be reported within ten business days, according to the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the details of Ron Conway's donation.