ON EVE OF CAMPAIGN FILINGS, LGBT LEADERS RAISE SERIOUS QUESTIONS
How many millions of dollars meant for AIDS healthcare will go to ban affordable housing?
Michael Weinstein, the head of a $1.3 billion AIDS prevention nonprofit, is notorious for diverting healthcare dollars for his own political agenda. With campaign filings set to drop tomorrow, many LGBT leaders are concerned about where that money is going.
"The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spent millions and millions of dollars on a misguided effort that will hurt Los Angeles renters instead of fulfilling their organizational mission of helping people with HIV/AIDS," said Torie Osborn, the former CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. "The money spent on unrelated political adventures could have built a beautiful apartment building for the people AHF serves. Instead, because Michael Weinstein didn't like another building blocking the view from his office, that money is going to make Los Angeles unaffordable for them and hundreds of thousands of others."
In the last 12 months alone, Weinstein has already spent $23 million of his foundation's budget on failed political crusades for statewide propositions 60 and 61. In fact, the Sacramento Bee reported that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was the fourth biggest spender on the California ballot last year.
Much of this money was donated to the the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in order to prevent and treat AIDS and HIV patients.
Now, Weinstein's campaign cash firehose is diverting millions meant for AIDS healthcare into Measure S, which would ban virtually all new housing in Los Angeles -- including housing for the homeless and affordable housing -- just because his view of the Hollywood sign might get blocked by an apartment building going up next door.
"Having been a patient, as well as having served as a board member of one of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's many community engagement organizations, I am ashamed of AHF's -- and more specifically, Michael Weinstein's -- abuse of funding intended for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS," said Michael Eisman, a former board member of Impulse Group, an AIDS Healthcare Foundation organization. "This is another of a growing number of examples of Weinstein becoming more and more out of touch with the fight to end AIDS, and focusing the resources of AHF on an agenda that benefits himself over the wellbeing of his patients."
AHF has already come under fire for its expenditures of healthcare funds on political crusades. The Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade association, filed a lawsuit last year against Weinstein for his out-of-control, off-mission spending.
"It is a disgrace how AHF squanders scarce public funding that is intended to aid and support communities affected by HIV," said Eric Paul Leue, Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition and a commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. "I do not speak in my position as a LA County HIV Commissioner, but as a resident of LA County it is obvious: We can not allow housing developments to be banned in a city that has such high housing demands."
Newspapers and experts agree, Weinstein's dangerous, self-serving initiative will:
- Create more homelessness in Los Angeles
- Ban construction on 90% of city-owned affordable housing opportunity sites
- Eliminate tens of thousands of good jobs with benefits
- Slash $1.2 billion in wages in the first two years alone
- Increase rents across the city