Caitlyn Jenner Is Right: Crime is the #1 Issue in California and Gavin Newsom Bears Ultimate Responsibility

David Sacks
6 min readApr 27, 2021

Politico thinks it caught novice political candidate Caitlyn Jenner in a “gaffe” when she tweeted her disgust with San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin’s decision to release a repeat domestic abuser who went on to murder a 7-month old baby. Boudin’s handling of the case has drawn the outrage of local domestic violence victims’ advocates and attracted international news.

So what did Jenner do wrong? Her “gaffe” was supposedly that she revealed ignorance of how local DA’s come to power when she wrote “Gavin’s District Attorneys are releasing dangerous criminals back on our streets. Enough is enough.”

Jenner quickly clarified in a subsequent tweet that “of course I know DA’s are elected, but as CEO of the state, the buck stops with Newsom.” But that hasn’t stopped Newsom allies from making snarky comments about her alleged political naivete.

In reality, what Jenner did was commit a “Kinsley gaffe,” wherein a politician reveals a truth meant to be concealed. Jenner has intuited something here that many voters haven’t yet figured out and that Gavin Newsom is hoping to keep hidden from them through the recall election; namely, that there is little daylight between the Far Left radicals like Chesa Boudin, George Gascon, and Lorena Gonzalez, and himself.

Let’s consider the similarities. Newsom could have appointed anyone to fill the Attorney General slot left open by Xavier Becerra’s confirmation as President Biden’s HHS Secretary. His choice was progressive East Bay Assemblyman Rob Bonta, an advocate for the very same policies that Boudin and Gascon have been pushing at the DA level: mass decarceration, diversion, ending bail, opposing three strikes laws and gang enhancements, and pleading down as many cases as possible.

Boudin and Gascon have forbade their prosecutors from speaking on behalf of victims at parole hearings, a decision that has outraged victims rights groups. And Boudin has enraged San Francisco’s Asian community by refusing to seek jail sentences for perpetrators of Asian hate crimes, opting instead to let the attackers receive therapy at home.

The Prosecutors Alliance of California, co-founded by Boudin and Gascon to promote this agenda, praised the Bonta selection as boding well for their vision of “reform” in the state’s top law enforcement office. Boudin himself gushed about the “historic” appointment on Twitter. Newsom retweeted similar praise for his selection from several progressives in the state and nationally.

So while Newsom is not appointing the left-wing DA’s who are dismantling public safety in our most important cities, the people he is placing in even bigger jobs stand with those DA’s in their efforts. Caitlyn Jenner is therefore correct to focus on crime as a legitimate issue in the governor’s race, and she’s right that the buck ultimately stops with Gavin Newsom.

From Moderate to Bernie Bro

Newsom has climbed into bed with the far left in other ways as well. He eagerly signed Lorena Gonzalez’s disastrous AB5 legislation. When angry freelancers demanded changes to the bill, Newsom doubled down for months before finally enacting some changes. Nevertheless, he kept in place the restrictions on rideshare drivers, only to see the state’s voters overwhelmingly repeal them by initiative in last November’s election.

That election showed Newsom to be out of step with the electorate in several other ways, too. The voters rejected reinstatement of racial preferences, opposed attempted elimination of the bail system, nixed tighter rent controls, and once again torpedoed an effort to partially repeal Proposition 13’s curtailment of property taxes. Newsom supported these propositions, but voters were having none of it.

Once upon a time, Newsom had better political instincts than this. When he first came on the political scene as a city supervisor and then candidate for mayor of San Francisco, he touted his business experience and cultivated a moderate image. In a close primary and runoff election against a socialist, Newsom prevailed by only 14,000 votes based on support from the business community.

As mayor, Newsom largely ran the city in a moderate fashion, while showing political courage on emerging social issues like same sex marriage and cannabis legalization. This was at a time when the national Democratic establishment wanted to duck those issues or outright oppose them. His decision to start marrying same-sex couples at City Hall in 2004 would later get him blamed by some national Democrats for John Kerry’s defeat later that year. Someone had to get there first, however, and the sea change in attitudes on gay marriage and cannabis legalization all over the country show that Newsom’s early championing of these issues was as sound politically as it was correct morally.

Newsom’s combination of pro-business centrism and social tolerance made him a good fit for statewide office in California. I certainly thought so, and that’s why I donated $50,000 to his gubernatorial campaign in 2018. But something happened to Gavin once he took his seat in the big chair. He sensed a shift to the Left in the base of both the state and national Democratic Party, and raced to realign himself with that new reality.

Gavin became a Bernie Bro. He imposed the country’s most severe Covid restrictions, creating one of its highest unemployment rates. He allowed the education unions (who are his biggest donors) to keep schools closed long after other states reopened. Our most vulnerable kids are falling woefully behind, and Gavin can’t even guarantee this learning loss and social isolation will come to an end in the fall.

Californians continue to live with restrictions on their personal freedom that aren’t supported by scientific evidence and certainly were never voted on. Businesses are failing under the country’s most burdensome regulations, and many of our best job creators are fleeing the highest tax rates in the nation.

Race and class divisions are being exacerbated by performative “woke” rhetoric, while discrimination against the Asian American community is being championed in the name of “equity.” Homeless encampments keep metastasizing into more and more neighborhoods and public spaces, and we keep subsidizing rather than solving the underlying causes.

The Biggest Issue

All of these are legitimate topics for the recall election to discuss. But Jenner has correctly identified crime as the biggest issue in California right now. If voters don’t feel safe in their communities and their homes, nothing else matters. Ensuring the safety of citizens is the first priority of government.

Increasingly, larger and larger areas of our major cities are becoming too dangerous to live in, open businesses in, or walk around in. Entire categories of “quality of life” crimes (shoplifting, vandalism, car break-ins, and other theft) are being exempt from prosecution and effectively legalized throughout wide swaths of the state. The decarcerationist DA’s increasingly don’t want to prosecute even violent felonies like armed robbery and assault, offering generous plea deals in lieu of trials or “diverting” the cases into “restorative justice” programs.

The state of public safety in San Francisco and Los Angeles has grown dismal enough that Newsom may not make it to the recall election without at least tepidly denouncing the radical policies of those DA’s. But no one should believe him. He has shown through his rhetoric and his appointments that he tacitly supports their agenda, and the new support he has garnered on the national Left shows that they see clearly what Gavin is doing.

Caitlyn Jenner may not be a conventional candidate, but she can see the connection between the words and actions of Newsom and what is happening on our streets. Newsom and his people know this issue is explosive, or they wouldn’t have piled on Jenner for what at worst amounts to an untidy use of language that she quickly cleaned up. The exact same people who gave Caitlyn Jenner a Courage Award several years ago are now engaged in a political hit job on her because she has the temerity to get in the arena against a self-serving career politician.

Her willingness to fight Newsom and the dangerous DA’s he has aligned with shows that Jenner’s courage goes well beyond her personal journey. We need this level of courage and pugnacity if our state is going to be turned around. I’ll reserve my endorsement until I see who else enters the race. But if the choice is between Jenner or Newsom, it’s an easy decision. To quote a political slogan that was popular not too long ago: I’M WITH HER.



David Sacks

General Partner and Co-Founder of Craft Ventures. Previously: Founder/CEO of Yammer. Original COO of PayPal.