California ballot proposal targets one man’s political agenda

Michael Weinstein has long been politically active in California, spending over $100 million of his nonprofit foundation’s money on ballot measures. Now a new ballot initiative seeks to curtail his spending and influence.

A new initiative in California would prevent one nonprofit founder from spending millions on ballot measures in the Golden State. 

The measure, first reported by Politico, effectively targets AIDS Healthcare Foundation founder Michael Weinstein in an effort to prevent him from pushing his own personal political agenda. 


The backstory: Weinstein oversees the multi-billion dollar AIDS Healthcare Foundation as its president, which operates in over 730 treatment clinics across the globe. 

  • He has a history of funneling money from the foundation to support certain ballot measures, using over $100 million on initiatives that are not all tied to his foundation’s mission. 
  • Weinstein has been behind measures for rent control, a housing development freeze, drug pricing and mandating condoms in adult films. He also led a campaign against Truvada, a daily pill used to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. 

The big picture: The California Apartment Association is funding an initiative to freeze out Weinstein from funneling his organization’s money to ballot measures. 

  • The association is supporting the Protect Patients Now Act, which would apply to drug program participants that have spent over $100 million on issues other than direct patient care and have over 500 health and safety violations on their low-income properties. 
  • According to a report from Politico, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the only organization that meets the initiative’s criteria. 
  • The foundation purchases prescriptions at steep discounts under 340B, a federal drug discount program designed to help hospitals and nonprofits treat low-income patients. Weinstein’s organization then charges public programs the standard amount to make a significant profit. 
  • Under the California Apartment Association’s measure, Weinstein’s group would be required to spend 98 percent of its taxpayer-generated revenues on direct patient care, effectively putting an end to his political activity through the foundation. 

What they’re saying: In a statement last week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said the California Apartment Association “is so afraid of the voters that they need to muzzle renter advocates. They are classic bullies who can’t deal with a fair fight.” 

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