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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Airbnb Donates Money Directly to David Chiu. Sort Of.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 7:16 AM

Assemblyman-to-be David Chiu has achieved the goal of every San Francisco politician. He has escaped the clutches of San Francisco politics. 

Assuming you didn't spend the election season ensconced in some manner of bomb shelter, you probably know most of the salient details. Chiu bested fellow 44-year-old, Harvard Law-educated city Supervisor-named David — David Campos — in a hard-hitting and close contest.

Some of the hardest hits were delivered to Campos regarding his vote to not boot Ross Mirkarimi from office after the Sheriff pleaded guilty to false imprisonment following an incident in which he grabbed his wife by the arm. Truckloads of mailers featuring sullen domestic violence survivors flooded area homes, accusing Campos of being soft on domestic violence. 

These ads were bankrolled by some $750,000 pumped into an independent expenditure committee by tech barons and early Airbnb investors Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman. And that's relevant because Chiu wrote and shepherded legislation through the Board that validated that San Francisco tech platform's illegal business model — and stands to benefit Conway, Hoffman, and others handsomely.

So, that's the backstory. Here's what's new: A search of campaign finance records reveals an election day  donation directly from Airbnb to Chiu. Well, that's unusual. And not just because of the unusual total. 

Even if the donor didn't jump off the page, the amount donated does: $1,822. That's an odd total to hand over on the final day of a long and incredibly costly campaign. What gives? 

Chiu's campaign consultant, Nicole Derse, said the $13 billion corporation is just being cautious and transparent. It fired off the following e-mail to a small army of interested city voters. And, since the hotlinks regarding "fellow hosts"  went to pro-Chiu pages, the company decided to report the missive as an in-kind donation: 

click to enlarge airbnb_election_day_e-mail.jpg

As for what alchemy the company employed to arrive at the total of $1,822, Derse assures us there are industry standards for such things.

What effect that three-quarters of a million dollars had on the race, meanwhile, remains harder to quantify. 


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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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