California’s election wars have often seen wealthy interest groups and their well-paid political mercenaries face off in a veritable bombardment of expensive television ads. But an election measure like this – aimed at banning a single person – is highly unusual. He renounces all simulation and puts the target directly behind Weinstein’s back, his supporters unveiling a slogan in early November 2024: “Stop the Weinstein scam”.
Leading the way is the California Apartment Association, the largest association of landlords and rental managers statewide. Among those joining the coalition is Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), who is also contributing to the ballot to overturn California’s 2008 Proposition 8 banning same-___ marriage, which was struck down in federal court. in 2010.
“It’s common sense: taxpayers’ money meant for patients should be spent on patients,” Low said.
Weak legislation already drafted to prohibit AHF from using state and federal funds or money from a federal drug discount program for housing-related campaign actions or to fund litigation to foul housing projects . Others have called for the state to investigate the foundation’s use of savings from the drug discount program to help poor patients.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the foundation attacked the California Apartment Association, saying the trade group “is so afraid of voters that it needs to muzzle tenant advocates.” They are classic tyrants who cannot fight a fair fight.
Although he had little to no electoral success in the Golden State, Weinstein’s only spending on rent control, freezing real estate development, drug prices and requiring condoms in adult films made him a force to be reckoned with. Some of California’s leading politicians and interest groups view him as a hard-nosed pugilist with few allies outside his own organization.
For more than a decade in Sacramento and Los Angeles, there have been complaints that he exploited a loophole allowing him to use the AHF as his own political piggy bank. But he kept spending and fighting. Weinstein, once a candidate for Los Angeles City Council, mostly embraced his underdog role, arguing that he wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest and presented himself as a one-man army ready not only to touch the third rails, but also to cross them.
Weinstein ruthlessly attacked drugmakers. He led a public battle against the pill to prevent HIV infection. He fought landlords by repeatedly trying to expand rent control in California.
The new anti-Weinstein initiative – dubbed the Protect Patients Now Act – reportedly targets Weinstein over how he raises the money he spends on his campaign. AHF builds on the decades-old federal drug rebate program designed to help hospitals and other nonprofit health care organizations treat low-income patients. Known as 340B, it allows the organization to purchase prescriptions at a deeply discounted price and bill public programs the standard amount. The AHF has long claimed that it spends 340 billion of funds for its intended purposes and that the foundation is allowed to spend a certain percentage on political activities.
But his spending on campaigning, a growing real estate portfolio and hiring paid consultants such as former California Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, now a member of the Los Angeles City Council, has come under fire. scrutiny.
The new ballot measure is very targeted. Specifically, this would apply only to drug program participants who have spent more than $100 million on matters other than direct patient care and who have committed at least 500 health and safety violations in their low income properties. POLITICO could not find any other organization that met these criteria.
The measure would require AHF to spend 98 percent of its taxpayer-generated revenue on direct patient care. It would also aim to prevent the group from overcharging government agencies for prescription drugs.
If AHF violates the new law, the state could strip it of its nonprofit status and make the organization ineligible for taxpayer money. Proponents say their internal poll of the measure conducted in July by FM3 Research found a solid majority backed the proposal, with a quarter initially opposed.
Weinstein has been the subject of scorn in political circles and is a hugely frustrating figure for critics, some of whom have been warned with barbed wire. Still, he’s far from a household name in a state of nearly 40 million people. In April, POLITICO was first to report that it had taken the unusual step of paying $2 per signature for a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to do more to help lower the cost of housing and urging him at least stay neutral. on the AHF rent control measure.
Ethics experts at the time argued that Weinstein and the AHF should have been transparent about paying people to get signatures for the draft letter, which referenced the proposed rent control initiative by name. AHF defended its recourse to the paid letter.
The governor himself largely ignored Weinstein while taking aim at the AHF measures that lost big at the polls. Newsom opposed Proposition 21 in 2020, suggesting it was unnecessary since California had already passed sweeping rent control. Newsom also opposed Weinstein’s Proposition 10 in 2018, saying it could have unintended consequences for housing production that could be deeply problematic for the state.
Weinstein blamed Newsom for his setbacks and strongly criticized the governor’s tenure, including his handling of the pandemic.
The California Apartment Association and others involved in the latest attack on Weinstein pointed to not only past statewide election losses, but other activity as well. Weinstein has sued California over affordable housing laws and has been flagged by state officials for allegedly improper negotiation tactics. Weinstein countered that the state was retaliating against him for pushing higher rates.