Chris Lehane, Mark Fabiani’s former business partner
The convention center expansion tax hike initiative backed by Kevin Faulconer has gotten some last-minute cash from an Airbnb-funded political committee, weeks after the San Francisco-based short-term rental outfit pronounced its satisfaction with the mayor's latest plan to regulate its business.
“We are pleased to see that policy discussions are continuing in the right direction and very much appreciate the mayor’s efforts in drafting this ordinance,” said Airbnb in a June 15 Union-Tribune story.
Billed as a compromise, Faulconer's proposal has come under fire from critics, including U-T columnist Logan Jenkins,who calls it "a framework that could have been written by pragmatic lobbyists for Airbnb."
The Committee to Expand the Middle Class, Supported by Airbnb, Inc. kicked in $10,000 to Yes, for a Better San Diego, the political committee behind the Faulconer-favored room tax hike measure, on July 3, disclosure filings show.
The Airbnb-funded group, formed in May 2016, has been used to funnel cash into political causes in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as Portland, Oregon, and beyond.
"The Committee to Expand the Middle Class is one part of our efforts to help strengthen communities that Airbnb hosts and guests call home," Airbnb spokeswoman Laura Rillos told Portland's Willamette Week in August 2016.
"We're proud to support principled community leaders who understand the economic benefits of home sharing and proposals that will make communities stronger."
Two months ago, the Airbnb committee kicked in $100,000 to a big money campaign against Proposition C in the desert resort city of Palm Springs. The proposed limit on short-term rentals was handily defeated last month by a 68 to 32 percent vote.
Leading Airbnb's political charge against its foes is Chris Lehane the take-no-prisoners Clinton-era operative and ex-business partner of Mark Fabiani, the former Chargers special counsel who frequently did battle with Faulconer and his political guru Jason Roe during the team's maneuvering to leave town for Los Angeles.
The Airbnb money for the mayoral-favored hotel tax hike is likely to be seized upon by critics, who have previously pointed out that a bevy of other out of town special interests, including private prison giant GEO Group and polystyrene-maker Dart Container, fighting a possible city ban on Styrofoam plates and cups, have backed the initiative. Sempra Energy, battling to keep its distribution monopoly here, gave $100,000.
But insiders say Faulconer and his allies have no choice but to work the phones to come up with enough money to pay for signatures gathered at the going rate of $10 each in a last-ditch effort to qualify the lagging measure. The initiative fund, which spent heavily in its early months on a host of Faulconer-linked political consultants and PR firms, has repeatedly missed promised turn-in dates.