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Fight over political money

District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell called for a federal investigation into a local nonprofit housing group’s political contributions. The Todco nonprofit housing group, active in the South of Market area, operates multifamily buildings with nearly 1,000 units. The Chronicle’s Matier and Ross report that the developer refinanced its “federally subsidized apartments for millions of dollars, then pumped $370,000 of the extra cash into progressive campaign causes.

That didn’t sit well with Farrell, who on Oct. 19 issued a statement accusing Todco of “profiting from taxpayer subsidy and funneling those profits into local political campaigns.” He asked that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigate to make sure that “public resources were not used for political purposes.”

Todco set up the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium for political advocacy, and it has been active supporting causes of the city’s progressive wing, such as District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s Proposition M, Proposition C, and other ballot measures opposed by the Board of Supervisors’ moderates.

Farrell said “YBNC’s activity and spending clearly does not pass the smell test. Instead of reinvesting profits gained from public subsidy to affordable housing needs and tenant improvements, YBNC is acting as a shell entity to bankroll their pet political campaigns.”

Todco’s chief, John Elberling, told the Chronicle that his organization has done nothing wrong.

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