Political Party/527

Tenants PAC

Location:

NY

Leader and Treasurer:

Michael McKee

Tenants PAC is a New York City-based left-of-center political action committee that focuses on electing candidates who support expanding rent control throughout New York State and otherwise supporting pro-tenant policies at the expense of property owners.

Tenants PAC is a player in left-wing New York politics, often supporting the furthest-left candidates in the Democratic primary and then helping them win election. The PAC played a role in Democrats taking control of the New York State Senate in 2018.

It also played a major role in the Upstate/Downstate Alliance which was successful in expanding rent control throughout all of New York State and passing other pro-tenant and anti-property-owner legislation. That legislation is currently being challenged in court by the real estate industry. [1]

The PAC’s leader was sued in 2018 by a real-estate industry organization for defamation. [2]

Overview and History

Tenants PAC was founded in 1997 by tenant leaders and activists from New York City. The mission was to preserve and expand rent control throughout New York State. [3]

The organization went to work that year lobbying to preserve rent control. It was largely successful by the rental package contained some weakening of the rent control and other pro-tenant laws. [4]

In 2003 and 2011, the rent control laws were shifted more in favor of property owners. In 2015, Tenants PAC won a renewal of the state’s rental laws without being forced to make more concessions. [5]

The organization is run as an all-volunteer organization and raises its money from tenants. It also recruits tenants to run as candidates. [6]

The organization focused its attention on the New York State Senate which was controlled by Republicans in alliance with rogue Democrats. In 2018, the mainline Democrats took control of the New York State Senate. [7]

Currently, Tenants PAC is governed by a board of directors of tenant activists from New York City and its suburban counties. The organization officially has no ties to another organization. [8]

Leadership

The leader and treasurer of the PAC is Michael McKee. McKee is a long-time tenant activist and has become the public voice of Tenants PAC.

In 2018, he was sued by the pro-real estate advocacy group Rent Stabilization Association, which alleged that McKee culpably mischaracterized the group’s relationships with state senators it supported. [9]

2019 Housing Legislation

In 2019, New York State’s housing laws were set to expire. Democrats and tenant rights groups saw an opportunity to pass regulations including statewide rent control and barring landlords from evicting tenants without “good cause.” The real estate industry and “mom and pop” landlords opposed the legislation package. The package passed, despite the opposition of the real estate industry. [10]

Tenants PAC joined forces with 70 other organizations and spent around $500,000 to get the package enacted into law. The $500,000 was spent to hire a full-time coordinator, pay for meals for tenants who were lobbying in Albany, hiring a strategic communications firm, and for some targeted Facebook ads. [11]

In addition to the lobbying effort, there were some direct action tactics employed to pass the package. Eleven days until New York State’s rent laws expired, a human chain of tenants blocked the entrances of both chambers of the New York State Assembly letting no one in or out. [12]

The legislation is currently being challenged in court by property owners. [13]

References

  1. “Landlords Strike Back, Suing To Dismantle Rent Regulation System”. 2019. Dnyuz. https://dnyuz.com/2019/07/16/landlords-strike-back-suing-to-dismantle-rent-regulation-system/. ^
  2. Parker, Will. 2018. “RSA Sues Tenant Leader Mike Mckee For $40M Claiming Defamation”. The Real Deal New York. https://therealdeal.com/2018/06/20/rsa-sues-tenant-leader-mike-mckee-for-40m-claiming-defamation/. ^
  3. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  4. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  5. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  6. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  7. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  8. “Mission”. 2019. Tenantspac. Accessed October 7. https://www.tenantspac.org/mission. ^
  9. Parker, Will. 2018. “RSA Sues Tenant Leader Mike Mckee For $40M Claiming Defamation”. The Real Deal New York. https://therealdeal.com/2018/06/20/rsa-sues-tenant-leader-mike-mckee-for-40m-claiming-defamation/. ^
  10. Brown, Nicole. 2019. “New York Rent Laws: How 9 Bills Could Change Regulations Across The State”. AM New York. https://www.amny.com/news/politics/rent-laws-new-york-1.30287622. ^
  11. Kromrei, Georgia. 2019. “The Money Behind The New York Tenant Movement”. The Real Deal, , 2019. ^
  12. Kromrei, Georgia. 2019. “The Money Behind The New York Tenant Movement”. The Real Deal, , 2019. ^
  13. “Landlords Strike Back, Suing To Dismantle Rent Regulation System”. 2019. Dnyuz. https://dnyuz.com/2019/07/16/landlords-strike-back-suing-to-dismantle-rent-regulation-system/. ^
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Tenants PAC

NY