The Top 9 People and Companies Cashing in on Airbnb’s $8 Million Campaign
By Julia Carrie Wong : sfweekly – excerpt
Airbnb’s jawdropping $8 million expenditure to defeat the ballot measure that would strictly regulate short-term rentals in San Francisco has the No on Proposition F campaign on track to become one of the most expensive in San Francisco history. With five weeks to go, Airbnb trails only the American Beverage Association ($9.2 million to defeat the soda tax in 2014) and PG&E ($10.8 million in 2008 to defeat public power).
Airbnb’s $8 million far outstrips the $5.6 million that all 14 mayoral candidates combined spent in the 2011 election.
So what is Airbnb doing with all that money?
Well, first of all, the campaign has only reported the expenditures up to September 19, at which point it had paid out $3,582,028. About 20% of that dough (approximately $600,000) has gone to things like payroll, office supplies, rent (the campaign had to swallow a $10,000 loss after cancelling a $40,000 lease with landlord Edward Litke on its ill-fated Mission campaign HQ), Uber rides, Instacart deliveries, meals for volunteers, and Clipper cards.
The other 80% has gone to a handful of big winners. Here’s who’s cashing in on Airbnb’s pile of cash:
1. Sadler Strategic Communications — $1,715,097
SSC is a political consulting and media buying firm run by Sheri Sadler, a veteran of California politics who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recall campaign and Ed Lee’s 2011 mayoral campaign. Most of the money paid out to her has been put toward advertisement buys on local television stations, but Sadler has also racked up $63,359.09 in commissions, so far.
2. Joe Slade White Communications, Inc. — $316,904.45
Joe Slade White is a national Democratic campaign consultant. He’s worked for Vice President Joe Biden for years and claims that he beat David Beckham at soccer (he actually beat him at politics but whatever). White’s key to success is his “9 Principles of Winning Campaigns,” which appears to be his own version of Mao’s Little Red Book, replete with aphorisms attributed to none other than Joe Slade White:
In addition to $94,169.88 in commissions to himself, White has shelled out much of his campaign cash to media production folks, including $11,097.50 to the voice actor who did Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign ads.
3. David Binder Research — $264,800.00
Another heavy hitter with an Obama-pedigree, the San Francisco-based polling and research firm is raking in the short-term rental cash.
4. Hsieh & Associates — $157,983.00
This is a controversial one. Hsieh & Associates is the political consulting firm of Tom Hsieh, a local Democratic Party leader who sits on SF’s Democratic County Central Committee. Hsieh raised eyebrows when he declined to recuse himself from the DCCC’s endorsement vote on Prop. F. Hsieh voted with Airbnb, and now the No on Prop F campaign has the official imprimatur of the Democratic Party. Much of Hsieh’s cash has gone to media buys on Chinese language TV-channel KTSF.
More dirt on the mudslingers.