California Treasurer John Chiang has helped award tens of millions in tax credits and bonds over the last decade to a handful of affordable housing developers who contributed to his political campaigns.
A review of their projects by The Sacramento Bee found that Chiang has accepted more than $100,000 from firms that gained tax perks or bond financing from his actions, sometimes within weeks of the votes.
As he prepares to run for governor next year, Chiang has used the companies and projects he supported to help promote himself – at taxpayer expense. He plans to carry a 2018 statewide ballot initiative to address the shortage of affordable housing in California.
Since 2013, for instance, Chiang voted to grant 9 percent tax breaks to three of Domus Development’s projects: Curtis Park Court, a senior community near Sacramento City College, as well as Sutter Place in Carmichael and Anchor Village in Stockton.
Beginning that year, the company’s top brass and its tax-credit equity syndicator contributed nearly $40,000 to Chiang’s campaign committees, including $7,500 toward his 2018 run for California governor.
Last year, he featured Curtis Park Court and a Domus representative in a 4 1/2-minute video posted to his government website under the title “Treasurer Tackles California’s Affordable Housing Crisis.”
A Chiang campaign spokeswoman declined to make him available for an interview. But in a prepared statement, Chiang said the contributions have no influence over his decisions.
“As someone who has spent a career exposing billions in government waste and corruption, protecting the integrity of my office is paramount to me,” he said. “Decisions by my office about
where to invest public dollars are driven largely by mathematical formulas tied to getting taxpayers the most bang for their buck. The evaluation and scoring are done by professional staff who have nothing to do with or any knowledge as to who supports my campaigns.”
Treasurer’s Office officials stressed that the affordable housing firms included in The Bee’s tally began working with California before Chiang assumed his first statewide post, state controller, in 2007. But campaign finance records show they have been far more generous to Chiang than others who have served as treasurer or controller.