With rising demands for rent control, landlords have taken to hidden campaign funding to promote anti-rent control candidates.
Despite gobs of money and faux experts trying to convince the public that rent control is a “failed policy,” the public continues to support rent control by a large margin. Tenants know that rent control preserves affordability, especially in expensive markets.
Landlords know that the only way to prevent Bay Area cities that are struggling with huge rent increases from adopting rent control is by secretly funding anti-rent control candidates. If they do it publicly, their efforts will backfire, as voters receiving a mailer explicitly from a landlord group would vote for the rent control candidate. So they fund other shell groups that then back anti-rent control candidates. Welcome to the world of unlimited Independent Expenditures (IE).
Here's what happened in November in the Mountainview, CA, a city of 60% renters:
According to disclosures filed with the state last week, the California Apartment Association — which represents landlords and is involved in local politics — funneled $90,000 through the "Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition," a mysterious political action committee (PAC) that sent out an unusual number of mailers in support of three candidates opposed to rent control during the election: Pat Showalter, Ken Rosenberg and Ellen Kamei. (Landlords Hid Big Election Spending, Mountain View Voice, Feb 6, 2015)
Usually, Big Real Estate gets away with this stuff without any scrutiny. Kudos to Daniel DeBolt of the Mountain View Voice for uncovering the shadowy campaign money in the recent election. His article is a must read for anyone concerned with tenant rights.