Kit Lam, a father of two and volunteer for the San Francisco school board recall campaign, filed a civil lawsuit on April 13 against a thief who stole recall petitions almost a year ago. As a naturalized American citizen, Lam said, “[I] should be free to express my political views without harassment and threat of violence.”
His case deserves national attention because we are in an election year, and many Americans from both sides of the political divide have raised questions about election interference and integrity. An incident such as petition stealing, if only lightly punished, will not build voters’ confidence in upcoming elections.
Last April, dissatisfied parents in San Francisco decided to recall three far-left school board members over several grievances, including the district’s long delay in reopening schools and board members focusing on leftist politics at the expense of education. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in the city, or 51,325 per board member.
Lam described himself as “an ordinary father, a concerned citizen, and a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong who volunteered my time for the school board recall campaign.” Many referred to Lam as a “super volunteer” because he collected several thousand petition signatures personally. According to Lam’s lawyer, John Roach, Lam’s political activism made him “a target of political opponents of the Recall. Opponents of the Recall created a leaflet identifying enemies of the School Board. Mr. Lam was harassed by unidentified individuals while collecting petitions.”
On May 30, 2021, at a farmers’ market in the Richmond District, while Lam was working with other volunteers to gather signatures, he noticed a bystander walking off with a batch of signed petitions. Lam confronted the thief, and their encounter was caught on video.
Lam can be heard in the video shouting at the thief repeatedly, “Why are you doing this? I’m fighting for my kid’s life!” The alleged thief was heard in the video eventually saying to Lam, “You caught me.” This encounter visibly shook Lam. In a different video taken after the confrontation, Lam repeatedly asked, “What he did was really wrong. How could he do that?”
This incident was widely reported by local media (see here, here, and here). San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight wrote about Lam’s emotional reaction to the petition thief this way: “When you’re looking to interfere with the electoral process, don’t go after a determined dad who used to work as an agent rooting out corruption for Hong Kong’s equivalent of the FBI. You might regret it.”
The petition stealing incident was widely condemned. San Francisco’s Democrat Mayor London Breed told the San Francisco Standard: “The citizen initiative process is an important part of our democracy, and people should be free to gather signatures for any ballot initiative free of fear of harm or harassment. Any attempt to subvert this process should be investigated and taken seriously.”
Jason Kruta was identified as the alleged thief Lam encountered. Kruta is a member of the San Francisco Democratic Socialists of America, and he appears to be connected with other radical leftists in the city.
Netizens identified Kruta in photos with Alison Collins (one of the three school board members who faced the recall) and Marxist-linked District Attorney Chesa Boudin (before he was elected district attorney) at the Richmond Democratic Club 2019 summer soirée. The radical left in the city had been the loudest supporters of the three woke school board members facing recall and some of them deployed dirty tactics against the recall campaign and its supporters.
Signing a Fake Name on a Ballot Is a Felony
Under California election law, stealing election petitions is a misdemeanor. Once the alleged thief was identified, it turned out that before he took some recall petitions from the table Lam managed, he signed a fake name on another petition to recall Boudin. According to California law, signing a fake name on a petition or ballot is a felony.
Kruta was fired by his employer and later arrested by the San Francisco Police Department in September 2021. On February 15, 2022, San Francisco residents voted overwhelmingly to recall the three leftist school board members. Without courageous and dedicated volunteers like Lam, the recall wouldn’t have become a massive success.
About two months after the recall, on April 12, Kruta reportedly “agreed to enter a diversion program that requires 25 hours of community service and 12 sessions of impulse control therapy in exchange for eventual dismissal of the criminal case against him.” Lam’s lawyer Roach called the diversion agreement “a mere slap on the wrist for attempting to illegally interfere with a Recall campaign.”
Keeping Voters’ Confidence
Unsatisfied with the diversion settlement and determined to hold Kruta accountable, Lam and his lawyer filed a civil lawsuit against Kruta for violating Lam’s constitutional rights.
At the press conference announcing his civil lawsuit, Lam delivered a heartfelt speech. He said: “I was exercising my constitutional right protected and guaranteed by the California Law to petition the government and recall elected officials. It was shocking for me to witness the anti-democratic and shameless acts committed by Mr. Kruta and others in broad daylight.”
Lam went on to say, “I am a registered Democrat. Whether I am a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, I should be free to express my political views without harassment and threat of violence. Remember, democracy is the cornerstone of the United States.”
At a time when so many native-born Americans have lost faith in America’s democratic process, it is inspiring to see a Hong Kong immigrant’s unwavering faith in democracy in this nation and his willingness to defend his constitutional rights.