As the campaign heats up to pass Proposition 21, Californians would be smart to sear these five photos of Big Real Estate hotshots into their brain. Corporate landlords are hiding behind mom-and-pop landlords, and they’re hiring toxic, so-called “Democratic” lobbyists to represent their big-money interests. Don’t be fooled by these corporate landlords and the No on Prop 21 campaign, especially their high-priced mouthpiece Steve Maviglio. They’re only concerned about their gigantic profits — no matter who gets hurt.
Billionaire landlords Stephen Schwarzman and Geoffrey Palmer are using a little known political action committee to feed money into the No on Prop 21 campaign, attempting to dodge the media spotlight and the ire of Californians suffering from the housing affordability crisis.
So far, the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC, a kind of shell committee for Schwarzman, Palmer, and other corporate landlords, has delivered $1.5 million to No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. Schwarzman and Palmer are two of the most notorious corporate landlords in the nation — so they’re hiding behind mom-and-pop landlords. But make no mistake, they are key players in Big Real Estate’s attempt to kill Proposition 21.
Sam Zell is chairman of Equity Residential — and is worth $4.8 billion. Zell has more money than he knows what to do with, and Equity has contributed $3.7 million to the No on 21 campaign. Yet as Californians struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and housing affordability crisis, Zell wants to maintain a rigged and broken housing market — and keep charging sky-high, unfair rents — that’s turned him into one of the richest people on the planet. Equity is one of the leading corporate landlords calling the shots for Big Real Estate’s No on Prop 21 campaign.
Essex Property Trust, helmed by CEO Mike Schall, is the top contributor to the No on 21 campaign, shelling out $4.7 million. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, Essex Property Trust and Schall want to keep charging unfair rents so they can continue to make billions off our backs.
Additionally, Essex Property Trust executive John Eudy is the co-chairman of a secretive “executive committee” that’s making the big decisions for the No on Prop 21 campaign, such as hiring controversial political consultant Steve Maviglio and approving misleading TV ads.
For years, no matter who’s suffering, the California Apartment Association, the most powerful landlord lobbying group in the state, has vigorously opposed tenant protections. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization fought temporary safeguards for renters. That take-no-prisoners approach is largely due to one man: Tom Bannon, the longtime chief executive officer of the CAA.
Now, the California Apartment Association sponsors the leading No on Prop 21 committee — and Bannon, of course, is a member of the secretive executive committee. Judging from his track, Bannon has shown no interest in protecting middle- and working-class renters in California.
Lastly, but certainly not least, you should know about Steve Maviglio, Big Real Estate’s expensive mouthpiece for the No on Prop 21 campaign. He’s one of those so-called “Democratic” consultants, but he’s made a very comfortable living by representing Big Business — and at the expense of hard-working Californians. From fighting the regulation of sky-rocketing health insurance premiums to investing in a fracking firm to now spinning for the real estate industry to stop Proposition 21, Maviglio simply can’t be trusted.
Sear these images into your brain. When you hear Maviglio and Bannon distorting the truth, remember they’re doing that for real estate bosses Schwarzman, Palmer, Schall, and other corporate landlords. They will all do and say anything to protect their billions by maintaining a status quo that’s generated massive profits for themselves, but has fueled California’s housing affordability crisis. Their greed must be stopped.
It’s why a trusted coalition of civic leaders, labor unions, social justice groups, and housing justice organizations enthusiastically support Proposition 21. The November ballot measure will put limits on unfair rents, rein in corporate landlord greed, and keep families in their homes.
Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is an award-winning reporter and advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.