“The California leader of a major US civil rights group is facing backlash for fighting a rent control measure while working as a paid consultant for an opposition campaign funded by real estate companies.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in California is opposing a pro-tenant initiative that has widespread support from civil rights groups and progressive housing activists. Alice Huffman, the chapter president, has admitted to being a paid consultant for the campaign opposing the proposal.
Proposition 10 (Prop 10) would allow cities and counties across California to expand rent control, repealing a longstanding law that critics say has contributed to soaring rents and the massive housing crisis in one of the wealthiest regions in the country. The measure is endorsed by the state’s leading housing rights’ groups, the ACLU, multiple city governments, dozens of labor unions, the California Democratic party and numerous black civil rights groups.
The NAACP’s surprise partnership with the opposition campaign, which is funded by real estate groups, has led to internal conflicts at one of the most well-known and oldest civil rights organizations in the US – and could damage Prop 10’s chances at the polls in November. Records and interviews reveal that:
- Huffman’s consulting firm is on track to make $800,000 from a No on Prop 10 campaign.
- The No on Prop 10 campaign has received millions of dollars from Blackstone Group, a major private equity firm that has acquired a huge residential real estate portfolio in California.
- The NAACP recently sent out mailers that falsely listed two unions as opponents of Prop 10, including one that has endorsed the measure.
Huffman was defensive in an interview with the Guardian on Monday, saying: “I don’t apologize for it … I don’t see it as a conflict of interest.”
‘That’s the dirtiest of dirty tricks’
Huffman, who was first elected chapter president in 1999, has for years also run her own firm called AC Public Affairs. The company in recent months has been paid more than $700,000 for campaigning against the rent control measure, records show. She said she would receive $800,000 total for the contract, which was first reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.”