I’m glad the Chron took on the big money going into the state Senate race, and got it ahead of me (while I was distracted trying to correct Scott Wiener’s misleading Bay Guardian mailer).
And it’s a fine story in terms of accuracy and detail, and a nice chart.
But I think there’s a bit of a false equivalency here.
Scott Wiener is getting a vast amount of money from a wide range of players who have interests in San Francisco and Sacramento, and pretty much represent all the of the bad guys in politics.
Jane Kim is getting support from the soda industry, which opposes Prop. V. Kim opposes it too, and (wrongly, in my opinion, but at least consistently) has always opposed the idea of taxing soda because she says it’s regressive.
But the money going to slate cards supporting her is far, far less, and only from one source, than Wiener is getting from pretty much everyone we don’t want deciding who our next state Senator is.
It’s hard to track since these days, big interests run their money through several different committees to try to launder it so the voters don’t know who is paying for what.
But with a little digging, you can find some trails.
In the case of Kim, the money is pretty simple. It’s public-employee unions, who traditionally support progressive candidates, and the soda money.
In the case of Wiener, it’s much bigger.
There was a time when Equality California was a fairly modest Political Action Committee that raised a little money and gave a little money to LGBT candidates and worked on issues like same-sex marriage.
But this race has turned EQCA into a giant slush fund, a place for some truly nasty interests to launder money that winds up going to support Wiener.
The Chron focused on Doris Fisher, the widow of GAP founder (and prominent Republican) Don Fisher, who gave $3.35 million to the California Charter Schools Association, which then funneled $420,000 to EQCA.
Fisher gives a lot of money to some pretty awful causes, including the campaign of the hard-rightwing Sam Brownback of Kansas, the New Republican Majority Fund, Mike DeWine, Rudy Giuliani, Frank Murkowski, and Chuck Grassley. She’s a GOP stalwart, who now apparently is sending money to Wiener.
Kim was never a big charter school fan when she was on the School Board. But there’s more than charters at issue here – Fisher supports bad right-wing candidates and causes, people who have been awful on LGBT rights (among other things). And her money is going to Wiener.
But let’s look at what’s going into the EQCA PAC, which is spending more than $800,000 (to date) promoting Wiener.
The Chron didn’t get into any detail on the real-estate money going into that PAC, but it’s particularly relevant since one of the biggest issues in the state Legislature is the Ellis Act. That state law allows landlords to evict all their tenants for no reason. Incumbent Senator Mark Leno (who has endorsed Wiener) made a great effort to modify the law, but the landlord-friendly Legislature failed to pass it.
The biggest opponents of Ellis Act reform were the California Association of Realtors and the California Apartment Association.
The Realtors put $120,000 into the ECQA PAC. The Apartment Association put up $180,000. That money is going to help elect Scott Wiener.
There’s also, oddly, a lot of money from the dentists, who seem to like Wiener. Not sure why, but I can tell you from past experience that the dentists in CA are a pretty conservative group.
There’s money going to support Wiener from Chevron ($100K), from the cops, and from Big Pharma.
So: I’m not a big fan of the soda industry, and bad money is bad money – but let’s have a little perspective here. On the Bad Money Scale – and on the question of real-estate money, which is perhaps the biggest issue in the race – there’s really no comparison.
BTW, there are LGBT activists in SF who are really unhappy about EQCA. Here’s a Facebook post from our friend Tommi Avicolli Mecca:
I am outraged that your organization is exploiting the homeless issue, an issue all too real to a lot of LGBT people, to elect Scott Wiener to the state senate. It’s especially offensive since your organization has done NOTHING to help the poor and the homeless, the most vulnerable among us.
EQCA did nothing when reports came out that up to 40% of homeless youth are queer or trans, or when the city’s homeless count showed that 29% of the homeless identify as LGBT. Or when two Williams Institute studies revealed that our community is as poor as, and in some instances poorer than, other communities. Had those reports been about the LGBT middle class, I’m sure EQCA would have beat down the doors of politicians to demand that something be done.
Your organization has not spoken out against sit/lie, which continues to hurt LGBT homeless individuals, making it more difficult for them to find housing. Are you even aware that a previous incarnation of that law was used against gay men in the Castro in the 70s? Harvey Milk opposed sit/lie. I guess that part of his legacy isn’t important to EQCA.
Wiener has a long history of being anti-homeless. In addition to backing sit/lie, he pushed to close the parks at night to keep out the homeless, like queer and trans folks who find them safer than the city’s shelters, which a report from the Coalition on Homeless showed are not safe for our community. He calls for housing for the middle class, but has not worked to build a single unit of affordable housing in the Castro for the homeless. The only affordable housing coming online in his district (at 55 Laguna) is due to the efforts of Open House and a community coalition spearheaded by Brian Basinger and myself.
EQCA, where is the equality for homeless queer and trans people?