The city of San Francisco was forced to pay a whistleblower $400,000 after former district attorney and prominent progressive prosecutor George Gascón repeatedly targeted him in a "pattern of retaliation and harassment."
Henry McKenzie served as a senior investigator under Gascón when the latter was the San Francisco district attorney, but was fired in October 2017 after, McKenzie claimed, he reported Gascón to the TSA for bringing a firearm on flights. Gascón also placed McKenzie on a so-called Brady list, meaning McKenzie's credibility would always be in question at trial—a decision McKenzie called an effort to destroy his career.
The settlement may be ammo for moderate Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey, who is running a tight race against the ultra-progressive Gascón. Their race is widely perceived as a bellwether for efforts to install progressives in district attorneys' offices across the country, a project of the criminal justice reform movement funded by liberal billionaire George Soros.
"San Francisco taxpayers have been forced to pay $400,000 for George Gascón's recklessness. Anyone entrusted to be a prosecutor must understand that no one is above the law," Lacey told the Washington Free Beacon. "The people of L.A. County deserve to know why he felt the need to bring firearms on commercial flights and if he knew he was breaking federal law in doing so. The pattern of harassment and retaliation shown towards the whistleblower demonstrates that he does not possess the leadership and integrity required to run the largest DA's office in the country."
McKenzie and other investigators reported Gascón to the TSA after learning that Gascón was carrying a gun while traveling by air—a violation of federal law unless one is a peace officer, which Gascón was not. Gascón, who has called the entire charge a "farce," claims that he stopped carrying a gun when regulations changed in 2016. McKenzie had claimed that his subsequent firing was direct retaliation for the report.
McKenzie told local news Tuesday that he felt vindicated by the unanimous decision from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to settle. A city spokesman said that it had done so because it would be cheaper to settle than to proceed to trial.
The ruling against Gascón is likely grist for the mill for Lacey, who has already been forced to fight an arduous first round of campaigning to protect her job as Los Angeles's first black and first female district attorney. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) both walked back their endorsements of Lacey amid nationwide protests of police, by whom Lacey is thought to be favored.
Gascón, who has received financial backing from liberal billionaire George Soros, would likely bring substantial change to the city if elected. He helped pilot progressive reforms in San Francisco that his successor, Chesa Boudin, has brought fully to fruition, and which critics blame for the declining quality of life in the city.