Money for AIDS treatment and care diverted to crusade against affordable housing

Galperin, LGBT Leaders Challenge President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation Over Spending on Measure S, Other Ballot Battles

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation describes its mission as providing medical care for people affected by HIV or AIDS. Lately, though, its president Michael Weinstein has betrayed the foundation’s goals by diverting millions of dollars into unrelated political campaigns including one that would exacerbate Los Angeles’ housing shortage, Controller Ron Galperin and other LGBT leaders said.

“The Yes on S campaign has not been transparent with the people of Los Angeles,” said Controller Galperin. “It has misled the voters by concealing its harm to affordable housing. It has misled Angelenos by saying it requires officials to ‘do their jobs’ while removing the funds necessary to deliver basic city services, let alone address the housing crisis. It has misled its own endorsers, resulting in withdrawals of endorsements, falsely claimed endorsements, and misleading uses of officials’ names. And it has misled the LGBT community, by placing an HIV/AIDS care organization’s name and funds in the service of a cause that is at best irrelevant and at worst directly harmful to the people it serves.”

Galperin joined LGBT community leaders across Los Angeles in signing an open letter urging AHF to abandon its deceptive campaign that will make housing less affordable for Angelenos, and urging Los Angeles to vote no on Measure S.

“The LBGT Center is building hundreds of units of affordable housing for homeless youth and poor seniors,” said Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Proposition S would have stopped us in our tracks and left countless numbers of homeless kids on the streets.  It's not the right solution for Los Angeles.” Renderings of this project available upon request.

"Measure S is a battle in this bigger picture. Especially now, when the rights of LGBT people are threatened at the federal level, we can and must do better here in L.A.," said Justine Gonzalez, a member of the City of Los Angeles Transgender Advisory Council. "On behalf of our LGBT community, I am calling on AIDS Healthcare Foundation to stop trying to block more affordable housing. It’s an issue of gender and racial equity affecting our most vulnerable communities. Lack of access to housing is a critical need not being met, and Measure S will make it worse.”

"As a former city council member and mayor, I understand the frustration that residents have with the impacts of development,” said Jeffrey Prang, Los Angeles County Assessor. "However, Measure S is not the solution and is a blunt instrument similar to using a sledgehammer instead of using a scalpel in surgery. Measure S will have a significantly negative impact on the development of market rate and affordable housing, which are both in critical shortage in Los Angeles. Additionally, Measure S will limit the ability of providing housing for special need populations such as homeless individuals, low-income families, and seniors."

The Sacramento Bee reported that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was the fourth biggest spender on the California ballot last year, spending $23 million of his foundation’s budget on failed political crusades for statewide propositions 60 and 61 (as well as opposing LA’s wildly popular transit investment, Measure M). While overnight filings continue to pile up, AHF’s reported spending on Measure S draws close to $4.5 million ($4,473,287.72 as of 2/23/2017) (UPDATE: with 2/24 filings the number is over $4.78 million.)

In 2016, The Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade association, filed a formal complaint last year against Weinstein for his out-of-control, off-mission spending, arguing to the Treasurer Inspector General for Tax Administration that his spending violated IRS regulations of non-profit organizations, which would hold an organization of AHF’s size to political spending of less than $6 million in a four-year period.

In addition to AHF’s funds raised directly from donors who wish to fight HIV/AIDS, a significant portion comes from taxpayer billings. The LA County Auditor Controller found that AHF overcharged Los Angeles County by more than $6 million. Four separate LA County audits found that AHF overcharged the county $6.1 million over the past 20 years. LA County had to sue AHF to recover $5.2 million based on its two most recent audits. And its proposed prescription drug regulation, Prop 61, would have carved out an exception protecting AHF’s own $800 million annual revenue in pharmaceutical sales from regulation.

This symphony of misleading practices has reached a crescendo in the campaign to pass the Measure S housing ban. The Yes campaign has described a permanent ban on nearly all General Plan Amendments, vital for affordable housing production, as a simple two-year time out. It has described a provision that will ban 95% of all affordable housing it touches as “an affordable housing exemption.” It has invented the support of celebrities, and lost the support of others once they understood how Measure S would raise rents and cost jobs. In recent weeks, their campaign has falsely claimed to prevent the destruction of rent-controlled housing (it will accelerate it) and to support the construction of affordable housing for veterans (it will block proposed affordable housing for veterans).  

The broadest coalition in Los Angeles history, including labor and business, homelessness advocates and tenants’ rights leaders, academics, environmentalists and urban planners joins LGBT community leaders in calling on Weinstein to abandon his dangerous, self-serving initiative that 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
 

Click here to read the open letter signed by LGBT leaders and dozens more community members at today's event.