San Francisco Drops Its Boycott of Red States Because It Cost Them Even More Money

The politicians of California collectively decided that if Republican-leaning states were going to pass laws they didn’t like that they would not allow any sort of state or local money to be spent in those states. It was a pretty significant move, considering that a lot of events politicians and government employees travel to are out of state and in various states, depending on the topic of the event.


Now, it’s not like they actually intended to follow that law. Governor Gavin Newsom has been violating the state’s version of that law for a while now. But the City of San Francisco had two solutions for dealing with the red state menace. The first was a ban on doing business with those states. The second was banning city-funded travel to them. The boycott has been nothing short of a disaster.

My colleague Brad Slager has, in fact, covered this city rule, Chapter 12X of the municipal administrative code, previously. A report on the rule concluded that it was a failure.

In response to this inquiry, this report finds that:

  • 12X’s policy impacts are not clear; the CAO was not able to find concrete evidence suggesting 12X has influenced other states’ economies or LGBTQ, reproductive, or voting rights.
  • 12X has created additional administrative burden for City staff and vendors and unintended consequences for San Francisco citizens, such as limiting enrichment and developmental opportunities.
  • Few, if any, other jurisdictions implement travel or contracting bans as expansive as the City’s.
  • Potential alternatives to 12X range from administrative revisions of the existing legislation to repealing the entirety of 12X.

More evidence is now out that San Francisco did indeed screw itself in this policy decision – to the point where the city has struck it down in an attempt to stop slipping on banana peels over and over again.

The board voted 7-4 to repeal a 2016 law that prohibited city employees from traveling to or doing business with companies in states that passed conservative laws. The board of supervisors first enacted the law in an effort to punish states that had enacted what it viewed as restrictions on LGBT rights after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Since 2015, the board had amended the law to include states that, in its view, had limited voting rights and abortion access.

“It’s not achieving the goal we want to achieve,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the sponsor of the legislation to repeal the boycott. “It is making our government less efficient.”

[…] A one-year period between mid-2021 and mid-2022 saw waivers for contracts and purchase orders totaling $791 million. Meanwhile, the budget and legislative analyst also found that the city had spent nearly $475,000 in staffing expenses to carry out the boycott.

San Francisco appears to have discovered that, prior to their previous (and entirely egotistical) assumptions, no state changed its laws in response to this government boycott. It would seem lawmakers in red states feel more beholden to their constituents than the political whims of San Francisco’s municipal leaders. Go figure.


As with more Democratic Party policies than they would care to admit, the city rule also disproportionately hurt the academic prospects of black students, as it was responsible for “adding more red tape for a program that paid for teens to visit historically black colleges and universities, as many HBCUs are located in banned states.”

It’s good that San Francisco sees the need to try and save money where it can. After all, they still have massive reparations they want to pay.


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