Big Real Estate’s ‘No on Prop. 21’ Campaign Keeps Trying to Trick and Confuse California Voters

Ged Kenslea Press Release

Yes on 21: Big Real Estate’s No on Prop. 21 Campaign Keeps Trying to Trick and Confuse California Voters


Yes on 21 campaign files a cease & desist letter with several broadcast television stations over a “False and misleading No on Proposition 21 TV spot featuring Gov. Gavin Newsom entitled “Go Backward”

LOS ANGELES (October 13, 2020) Once again, the Yes on Prop. 21 campaign is fighting back against Big Real Estate’s constant lies and deceit in its multi-million-dollar effort to kill Proposition 21, a November ballot measure that will allow cities to enact or expand rent control policies that limit rent increases and help keep families in their homes. Wall Street landlords Blackstone Group, Essex Property Trust, and Equity Residential, among other publicly traded real estate investment trusts, are the leading contributors and decision makers behind the No on Prop 21 campaign.

“The real estate industry has long been known for doing whatever it takes to make bigger profits. So, we’re not surprised that Wall Street landlords are up to their dirty tricks again,” said René Christian Moya, campaign director, Yes On 21 campaign and director of Housing Is A Human Right. “But we’re always going to fight back and hold them accountable—and stand up for California’s 17 million renters. That’s what Proposition 21 is all about.”

Prop 21 will put limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases, rein in corporate landlord greed, and prevent homelessness. Top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley agree that sensible rent limits are key for stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis. It’s why U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Times, and California’s housing justice movement have thrown their full support behind Prop 21.

Last week, the Yes on 21 campaign sent a letter to California broadcast station managers, noting that claims made in a No on Prop 21 TV ad featuring Governor Gavin Newsom are “false and misleading, recklessly disregard the truth, and confuse voters as to the actual effect of Proposition 21.” The Yes on 21 campaign requested that station managers stop airing the commercial.

(Read the full October 8, 2020 cease & desist letter from the Yes on 21 campaign here.)

No on Prop 21’s deceptive advertisement is yet another instance of Wall Street landlords — such as Blackstone Group CEO and billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, Equity Residential co-founder and billionaire Sam Zell (pictured above, left), and Essex Property Trust CEO Mike Schall (pictured above, right) — trying to pull a fast one on California voters. 

The Yes on 21 campaign’s cease and desist letter prompted a swift, if deceptive response letter from Prop. 21 opponents’ lawyers refuting Prop. 21’s assertions about the ‘No’ side’s TV spot featuring clips of Gov. Newsom. The ‘Yes on 21’ campaign countered in an October 12th letter to the broadcast TV stations.

Recently, Yes on 21 also filed a formal complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, charging that No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing and No on Prop 21: Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association had violated the Political Reform Act by engaging in money-laundering activities. 

“They appear to be playing a shell game here,” said Dr. Trent Lange, executive director of the nonpartisan California Clean Money Campaign, who is not affiliated with Yes on 21. “It’s something that voters should take into account.”

(Read: “Yes on Prop 21 Sues Big Real Estate to Stop Repeated Dirty Tricks.”)

The Fair Political Practices Commission is now investigating the possibly illegal fundraising methods used by No on Prop 21: Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association. The California Apartment Association and its CEO Tom Bannon have a long, sordid history of using strong-arm tactics and deception to stop renter protections throughout the state.

In addition, the Yes on 21 campaign successfully sued the No on Prop 21 campaign to stop a lawsuit filed against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office seeking to suppress three statements in the ballot argument in support of Proposition 21, also known as the Rental Affordability Act (RAA). These statements—which Judge Laurie M. Earl upheld in her ruling—include backers’ statements in the ballot argument that:

  • Proposition 21 “Protects single-family homeowners”
  • Proposition 21 “Encourages the construction of new homes”
  • Proposition 21 “Provides reasonable and predictable rent increases”

Yet the No on Prop 21 campaign continues to roll out that same deceitful messaging, bankrolled by the Big Real Estate’s millions, to stop Proposition 21.

Stephen Schwarzman and Sam Zell are clearly scared that Proposition 21 will pass in California. It’s why they’re resorting, once again, to their usual tricks and deceptions,” added Moya. “We have complete confidence that Californians will not be fooled, and they will vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 21.”

Housing Is A Human Right (HHR) is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and the leading sponsor of Proposition 21.

Proposition 21 is sponsored by Homeowners & Tenants United, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more, visit yeson21ca.org and housinghumanright.org.

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