California Apartment Association Housing Is A Human Right campaign contributions

California Apartment Association and Big Real Estate Influence Political Races Throughout California

In News by Patrick Range McDonald

With election season upon us, journalists and voters should take another look at our special report about how the California Apartment Association and Big Real Estate deliver campaign contributions to politicians in every level of government in California. Without question, it’s a must-read.

Housing Is A Human Right routinely publishes special reports about the real estate industry and the politicians and YIMBYs who carry out Big Real Estate’s agenda. One of our reports — “The Garcetti-fication of Los Angeles: A Gentrification Cautionary Tale” — won the “Best Activism Journalism” award from the Los Angeles Press Club. In November 2021, we examined the political influence that the California Apartment Association and corporate landlords buy through campaign contributions. It remains a relevant read.

The California Apartment Association, the landlord lobbying group, is one of the most powerful organizations in California. It shapes, and stops, housing policies in the back rooms of the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, and fights to kill local tenant protections in city halls throughout the state. The CAA’s influence on California politicians has been enormous, but not deeply examined. We changed that. 

Housing Is A Human Right pored over state campaign contribution filings of the California Apartment Association’s four political committees. We revealed, perhaps for the first time, that the California Apartment Association shelled out campaign cash to politicians in the city, county, and state levels and that several of the nation’s largest corporate landlords used the California Apartment Association as a middle-man to deliver campaign contributions. Those corporate landlords include Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, and Essex Property Trust.

We also found that the CAA sent campaign checks to state elected officials and political committees in 51 out of California’s 58 counties. Those practices are still happening today.

With the CAA and Big Real Estate influencing elected officials in every level of government, California’s 17 million renters, who need strong tenant protections against corporate landlords’ predatory practices, are suffering the bad consequences.

Politicians like to say that campaign contributions don’t influence their decisions. If that was true, the California Apartment Association and its funders in Big Real Estate wouldn’t deliver, year after year, vast amounts of campaign money to local and state politicians — it would be a horrible return on investment. 

The reality is that money talks, and the CAA and the real estate industry know it. Unless new campaign finance reform comes along or elected officials start refusing to take campaign cash from the real estate industry, the California Apartment Association and Big Real Estate will keep sending major bucks to local and state politicians — and millions of California renters will continue to suffer through the state’s longtime housing affordability crisis.

Read the special report: “California Apartment Association’s Deep-Pocketed Campaign to Kill Tenant Protections.”