UPDATE: Wiener 2014: Does Supervisor Wiener have a dirty money problem?
Update: 2:40PM – See Supervisor Scott Wiener’s response below
—————————————-The investor activity tracking and eviction mapping organization, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), used Supervisor Scott Wiener’s campaign finance disclosure filings for 2013 to build an infographic of his campaign funding for re-election this November. The Infographic shows that real estate and tech interests make up 50% of the campaign donors so far with 41% of total contributions coming from real estate interests.
The AEMP also found that many of the city’s worst offenders, when it comes to evicting people from their homes, are on Supervisor Wiener’s campaign donor list. This list includes employees from Zephyr Real Estate (famous for their “Call and Ask Me about Ellis Act Evictions” flyers), Urban Green (an out-of-town speculation firm that is part of the Dirty Dozen), Flynn Investments (currently Ellis Act evicting a 33-unit building), Thomas Coates (Republican backer of Prop 98, the failed attempt to overturn rent control in 2010), Waasserman & Stern (specializing in the 3-day notice), Ashok K. Gujral and Todd W. Rhodes (currently evicting a 10-unit building in the Mission), and the list goes on.Tim Redmond, former Editor at the SF Bay Guardian, noted that Supervisor Wiener has big name real estate money bankrolling a re-election campaign for a district that has seen more than its fair share of evictions,
Campaign finance disclosure forms filed by Weiner reveal that both small and large landlords, real estate developers, property managers, and dozens of brokers and agents put $37,000 in his campaign bank account in 2013. Many of these contributors have business pending before the city’s Planning Board, or are awaiting decisions by the Board of Supervisors and various city departments. Some of the largest landlords in the city, like Vanguard Properties and Herth Real Estate, Zephyr Real Estate, California Property Services, and Flynn Investments, are backing Weiner.
Supervisor Scott Wiener did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Is this much ado about nothing since Wiener is District 8′s incumbent running largely unopposed? Perhaps not. This disclosure could be the political clout a contender could use in a run to unseat the controversial Supervisor.Whisperings of gay rights and community activist Cleve Jones courting several possible candidates to run against Wiener made their way around the Castro’s political circles towards the end of last year. One such name that was discussed that might be able to use this disclosure as a jumping off point for the District 8 seat is former President of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club David Waggoner. Waggoner, like Wiener, is also a lawyer, but while Supervisor Scott Wiener is known for going to bat for the City and for business interests, David Waggoner has been a champion of tenants and citizens. In 2011, the SF Bay Guardian wrote a glowing recommendation for Waggoner for the Police Commissioner position in 2011,
Waggoner has worked as a pro bono attorney before the Oakland Civilian Police Review Board and has earned the respect and admiration of people from highly diverse political and social backgrounds. His integrity and sense of justice and fairness inspire trust and confidence — and frankly, we could use a lot more of that in this city.
Credibility with historically marginalized communities — including people of color, new immigrants, the homeless, people with disabilities and the LGBT community — is essential in developing the kind of mutual respect that makes the department’s work effective or even possible. David Waggoner has that credibility.
Waggoner also attended the recent tenants conventions and spoke with the breakout groups on possible legislative solutions. Wiener attended the Castro tenants convention, but mostly sat back taking notes and left before breakout groups began.
It remains to be seen if this disclosure will affect Supervisor Wiener’s reelection bid, but it’s sure to rustle the feathers of both Wiener lovers and haters.
Update: 2:40PM – Supervisor Scott Wiener’s response
Roy: As an initial matter, if you’re going to run a one-sided hit piece suggesting that I’m taking “dirty money,” you should give me a real opportunity to respond before you run the piece. A last minute email at midnight doesn’t cut it. Since you have both my email and my cell phone, you know how to reach me, and you know that I do respond when given the opportunity.
As for Tim Redmond’s hit piece on me, I’ll say the following. First, I question why Tim didn’t run the numbers for other Supervisors running for reelection or for the Assembly. I’m told that Supervisor Campos raised about 40% of his contributions from real estate interests. It’s unclear to me why that wasn’t worthy of analysis, other than a desire to single one person out.
Second, my record on rent control is long and pro-renter. I’ve supported many pro-renter measures over the years and have been a public supporter of state-level Ellis Act reform going on a decade. I’ve supported various measures to address Ellis Act evictions, including the eviction disclosures measure, both tenant harassment measures (the one on the ballot and the one at the Board), restricting condo convertibility in buildings with Ellis Act evictions, restricting mergers and demolitions in buildings with Ellis Act evictions, and so forth. I also authored the legislation that banned universities, such as Academy of Arts, from buying rent-controlled buildings and converting them to student dorms. I actively campaigned against Prop 98, which would have repealed rent control. So, if anyone is trying to buy my support for opposing rent control, they’re not doing a very effective job, given my long record of support for rent control.
As for my campaign donations throughDecember 31, as disclosed on the recent campaign report, 85% of my donations come from San Francisco residents, and almost half of my donations came from District 8 residents. My donations come from folks in all walks of life, and my donations range from about $10 up. Tim Redmond’s hit piece appears to take a very broad view of what qualifies as real estate interests. For example, the calculation appears to include contributions from Building Trade unions, such as the electricians, the carpenters, and the sheet metal workers. It also appears to include anyone who works in interior design or architecture. Perhaps that’s why this number is so much higher than the 25% number cited by the Bay Guardian a few weeks ago. I understand why they did that — their goal being to inflate the number as much as possible — but it ends up undermining the credibility of the entire endeavor. Are they — and you — really suggesting that trade union, interior designer, and architect contributions are “dirty money”? Are contributions from realtors who are long-time residents in the Castro and who’ve worked with me on neighborhood issues really “dirty money”? Are contributions from district residents who work in technology really “dirty money”?
Unfortunately, there’s a troubling trend in some self-described progressive political circles to define who are “real San Franciscans” and who are not. These folks apparently have decided that if you work in tech or real estate or construction or trade unionism, you’re not a real San Franciscan and your money is “dirty.” I dispute that retrograde view, which is anything but “progressive.”
As with every elected official, I raise money from a wide array of sources. And, yes, that includes architects, real estate agents, folks in construction, trade unions, and folks who build housing. A number of the realtors who contributed are folks I’ve known for a long time, some personal friends and some whom I’ve worked with in the neighborhood or in nonprofit endeavors. In terms of people in construction or development, these are the people who are building housing in San Francisco. We have a dramatic shortage of housing — we’ve added very little new housing even as our population has grown — and we need to change that. Someone has to build the housing. I make no apologies for having support from people who build both market rate and affordable housing.
As noted, donors to my campaign, overwhelmingly, are San Francisco residents, and almost half of them live in the district. They include folks who work in real estate and folks who don’t. I’m proud of the broad support I’ve received, support that has grown from my work on many different issues of importance in our district and our city.