Airbnb is catching political heat.
Last week, WW reported that a manager at the company was flouting city rules by listing several of her properties as short-term rentals. That revelation fueled criticism that scofflaw Airbnb listings are adding to the city's rent crunch by removing units from the city's housing stock.
Airbnb has also been making political donations. In May, the company formally founded a political action committee in San Francisco called the Committee to Expand the Middle Class. It has donated to four Oregon campaigns—all in Portland.
"The Committee to Expand the Middle Class is one part of our efforts to help strengthen communities that Airbnb hosts and guests call home," says Airbnb spokeswoman Laura Rillos. "We're proud to support principled community leaders who understand the economic benefits of home sharing and proposals that will make communities stronger."
May 16 and Aug. 8
Novick told WW he didn't solicit the donations, offering the company a warning before we gave: "We're not always going to agree," he recalls telling a company representative.
"I think we need stronger enforcement," Novick added.
Wheeler spokesman Michael Cox downplayed the significance of a $1,000 donations.
"Ted has more than 1,500 contributors from all corners of Portland: workers, businesses, non-profit leaders, educators, and everyday citizens," he says. "We're proud of the broad base of support we've built."
Fix Our Streets (the Portland gas-tax campaign)
Airbnb officials say their donations went in part to support a Portland gas tax because it's "public infrastructure" for the 350 employees who need to commute to work.