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Anti-development initiative backer is LA’s top political donor

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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spent more than $23 million on state and local ballot measures this year

As Los Angeles voters prepare to cast ballots in a November election that could shape the future of the nation for years to come, one nonprofit has unexpectedly emerged as the city’s top political donor. As the LA Weekly reports, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has contributed more than $23 million to support and oppose state and local ballot measures.

Of that impressive sum (more than twice the amount given by LA’s next-biggest donors), the vast majority is funding campaigns for Propositions 60 and 61. Both were authored by the foundation and both directly relate to its mission of providing healthcare to AIDS and HIV patients. However, the foundation has also contributed to local ballot campaigns that, on the surface, don’t seem very relevant to its philanthropic focus.

Namely, AHF is the primary backer of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. That ballot measure, which will appear before Los Angeles voters in March, would put a two-year moratorium on most major development projects and force officials to adhere to current zoning rules until the city updates its outdated planning guidelines. So far, the foundation has contributed more than $1 million to the coalition.

As the Weekly notes, it’s highly unusual for a nonprofit to make contributions of this size. Even more odd is that at the local level, the foundation is funding campaigns that aren’t obviously connected with its mission. An October finance report showed the AHF-backed Coalition to Preserve LA made a $10,000 donation to the campaign opposing Measure M, Metro’s proposed half-cent sales tax hike to fund new transit projects.

According to the Coalition to Preserve LA website, “AHF raises its own advocacy funds to tackle social justice and fairness issues, which are in harmony with its mission. That mission is ‘cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay.’”

Still, a nonprofit attorney consulted by the Weekly says the foundation could face legal repercussions for advocating policy changes with too loose a connection to its stated goals.