Michael Weinstein

Michael Weinstein, the California-based author of the South Dakota prescription drug ballot issue, is the president and founder of a billion-dollar organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which is headquartered in Los Angeles. Nearly 80 percent of AHF's revenue comes from selling prescription drugs. AHF's pharmacy revenue topped $1 billion in 2017.i

Funding a South Dakota Ballot Initiative

Why is Michael Weinstein bankrolling a 2018 ballot initiative in South Dakota? According to the South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue website:

"In November 2018, South Dakotans will vote on the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue (IM 26), a misleading and vaguely worded measure that would require the state of South Dakota to pay no more for prescription drugs than the lowest price paid by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). Because it would apply ONLY to drugs purchased by the state government, IM 26 would not lower drug costs for the more than two-thirds of South Dakotans (71%) who DON’T get their drugs through state programs. Experts warn that the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue could actually end up increasing drug costs for state programs and the majority of South Dakotans, while also reducing patients’ access to needed medications." 

Read more here.

Michael Weinstein's health care organization, AHF, is the sole funder of the South Dakota prescription drug ballot issue.

Five Facts to Know

1. Makes revenue from selling prescription drugs 

Nearly 80 percent of AHF's revenue comes from selling prescription drugs through its own pharmacies. AHF's pharmacy revenue totaled $1,030,597,409 in 2017. i 

2. Engages in litigation to advance interests 

The Weinstein-led AHF (and its subsidiaries) has a documented history of frequently engaging in litigation to advance its interests – having filed at least 52 lawsuits against taxpayer-funded government agencies.ii 

3. Criticized for spending millions of tax-exempt dollars for political causes 

Michael Weinstein has been criticized for spending millions of tax-exempt dollars generated by AHF to pay for political campaigns and causes unrelated to the mission of his foundation.iii  This includes the 2017 so-called "Measure S" campaign in Los Angeles, a municipal zoning issue that was intended to restrict land-use, planning and development. Weinstein’s organization contributed $4.6 million to support the passage of Measure S, providing nearly 99 percent of the total funds raised in its support. According to the City Administrative Officer, Measure S would have cost the city millions of dollars in lost revenue.iv Measure S was soundly defeated by voters in March 2017 by a 70-30 percent margin.v

4. Caught misleading voters during a previous campaign 

In early 2017, the Measure S campaign received a cease-and-desist letter from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department for an "unauthorized and unlawful" mailing that was "misleading the public." The person who helped write Los Angeles' rent-control ordinance said, "They’re reaching new depths of deception...That’s pretty shallow. It's not going to deliver on any of these promises."vi 

5. Criticized by prominent HIV/AIDS activists 

Many prominent HIV/AIDS activists have become increasingly critical of Michael Weinstein for his tactics, stances on issues and use of AHF funds for political purposes, as well as for his publicly stated opposition and campaign against a medication that has been scientifically proven to be effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce the risk of acquiring the HIV/AIDS virus and to treat the disease.vii 

Michael's Neighbors: What They're Saying

By Christine Mai-Duc and Javier Panzar, 10/19/16

'Thug,' 'Bully,' 'Satan': This L.A. activist has never shied from controversy while building an AIDS political powerhouse

“Weinstein has been labeled a "bully," "Satan" and, as one longtime Los Angeles County supervisor put it, a "thug." His brand of advocacy is aggressive and brash…”

By Neal Broverman, 3/8/17

World's Largest AIDS Organization Just Flushed Millions Down the Toilet 

"Critics have long questioned the motives of Weinstein and AHF, which has its headquarters on the 21st story of a Hollywood office tower. AHF has been a years-long legal battle with a developer who wants to build two luxury towers adjacent to AHF's offices — a lawyer for the towers' developer told the Los Angeles Times that Weinstein's reason for opposition was that his own view would be obscured by the skyscrapers."

By Christopher Glazek, 4/26/17

The C.E.O. of H.I.V.

“Michael Weinstein, the 64-year-old founder and director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest and most controversial AIDS organization.

Over the last six years, A.H.F.’s budget has grown from $300 million to more than $1.4 billion, about the size of Planned Parenthood.

...with bottomless funds and an agenda marked by financial opportunism and puritanical extremes. It doesn’t help that A.H.F. has been the subject of near-constant litigation and complaints for questionable business practices, including union-busting, giving kickbacks to patients, overbilling government insurers and bullying funders into denying grants to institutional rivals.”

By Hillel Aron, 11/5/16

L.A.’s Biggest Spender in the 2016 Election Is a Nonprofit With Millions to Spare

“While AHF's statewide ballot measures are fairly close to their stated mission, its local initiatives have raised eyebrows. The foundation's stated purpose, according to its articles of incorporation, is "the provision of hospice and health care services to AIDS, HIV and other patients, and engaging in related educational activities." How exactly does limiting development and public transit fit into that?”

By Seth A. Richardson, 8/24/17

Who is the controversial man behind Ohio’s drug price ballot initiative?

“...Michael Weinstein, the polarizing and controversial president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation… his nonprofit has funded nearly the entire $6 million to the Ohio campaign, including $3.7 million in the last six months and the money to pay collectors to gather the 300,000-plus signatures that were needed to get the issue on the ballot.

...Weinstein might be most famous - or infamous - for his willingness to throw his organization's weight around. He's turned to the courts multiple times in his past, and even his fellow AIDS activists have decried some of his decisions.”

Michael Weinstein, himself:
"Whatever we’re doing is between us and our lawyers.(Los Angeles Times, 2/24/17)


Occupation: Health Care CEO

Michael Weinstein

Information from cited sources below