If you touch the Ellis Act, David Chiu won't touch your money.
The president of the Board of Supervisors and a candidate for the California Assembly has returned all the campaign contributions made at a fundraiser organized last week by Steven A. MacDonald, an attorney who has represented landlords who evicted tenants under the state's Ellis Act.
“We really wanted to make it clear that this campaign doesn't profit from anyone who is responsible for evicting folks with the Ellis Act,” said Chiu campaign consultant Nicole Derse, adding that the campaign returned about $2,000 in checks and online donations from the Thursday event.
Chiu also returned a $500 check from MacDonald written in October, Derse said.
The Ellis Act has come under fire locally in the past year, and two separate pieces of state legislation were introduced last week that aim to reform parts of it. The law can be used by landlords who want to get out of the rental business.
As for Chiu, he might not miss the money. His campaign has raised more than $450,000 as of the end of last month. But with a tense atmosphere in San Francisco around housing, campaign representatives said they felt it was necessary to make a statement.
A few hours before the Thursday fundraiser organized by MacDonald, the Chiu campaign learned that MacDonald — a well-known attorney who represents tenants and landlords in real estate disputes — had landed on housing activists' list of attorneys who take Ellis Act cases.
The event went on as scheduled.
Chiu's campaign will more thoroughly vet future supporters, Derse said, and in the meantime the campaign “will never accept” money from landlords or lawyers connected with the Ellis Act.
Critics of the law also say it allows speculators to buy a building full of tenants and then evict them in order to reap much-bigger profits (a building with market-rate units is much more valuable).
Both Chiu and fellow challenger David Campos appeared at a news conference Monday to announce an effort, backed by state Sen. Mark Leno and Mayor Ed Lee, to close loopholes in the controversial law.