Jacky Rosen Says Corporate Landlords Are Hurting Her Constituents as She Takes Cash From Their Execs

Jacky Rosen (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
April 12, 2024

Sen. Jacky Rosen says she's committed to cracking down on the corporate landowners jacking up housing costs for her constituents. But the Nevada Democrat has no problem raking in campaign contributions from executives at America's largest corporate landlord.

Rosen's campaign and leadership PAC have accepted $83,250 in 2023 from executives of Blackstone, a leading corporate investor in the U.S. housing market, Federal Election Commission records show. Blackstone is the largest landlord in the country, with over 300,000 housing units in its portfolio, and is a direct contributor to the affordable housing crisis, according to a 2023 report by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. Among Rosen's donors is Frank Cohen, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone's flagship real estate investment fund, which is heavily invested in Nevada. Cohen gave $13,200 to Rosen in August.

Now, Rosen says corporate landowners like Blackstone are responsible for driving up the cost of living for everyday Americans by monopolizing residential housing markets. Rosen introduced legislation in January that she said would limit the ability of companies like Blackstone to acquire an excessive amount of single-family residences in a single market and prohibit them from renting homes at an "unreasonable price."

"Every Nevadan should have a home, and corporate investors are coming to Nevada, they are buying up homes, buying up apartment buildings, and they are jacking up the prices so people cannot afford to live in the community," Rosen said during an affordable housing round table in February.

Rosen's reliance on campaign contributions from corporate landlord executives is the latest example of hypocrisy that could trip up the vulnerable Nevada Democrat as she hopes to secure a second term in November. Rosen has also introduced legislation to put a stop to the Congress-lobbying revolving door, but her team is teeming with former lobbyists, and many of her former staffers have gone on to become lobbyists, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Rosen's proposal may come as unwelcome news for Blackstone, which has purchased at least nine apartment buildings in Las Vegas since 2017, and has made significant investments in single-family homes across the country since the end of the pandemic. Blackstone is expected to have the third-largest single-family home portfolio in the United States following its $3.5 billion acquisition of Tricon Residential in January, according to Parcl Labs.

With its commanding market share, Blackstone has moved to raise rents up to 64 percent in some of its properties since 2021, according to the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. The company also reaped a tidy profit from evicting residents after COVID-era eviction restrictions loosened.

Blackstone was "seeing a meaningful increase in economic occupancy as we move past what were voluntary eviction restrictions," said Rosen campaign donor Nadeem Meghji, the co-head of Blackstone's global real estate operations, during an internal company call in December 2022 obtained by Business Insider. During the call, Meghji expressed confidence the evictions would contribute to the company's "cash-flow growth."

Rosen's constituents weren't spared from Blackstone's eviction spree. The company filed 104 eviction suits in Clark County, the state's largest county and the home of Las Vegas, from July 2022 through February 2023, Business Insider reported.

A Blackstone spokesperson justified the company's move to evict residents after the pandemic, but declined to comment on the contributions to Rosen's campaign from its executives.

"We believe we are the only major landlord in the US that did not evict a single resident for non-payment across our US rental housing portfolio for more than two years during the pandemic," the Blackstone spokesperson said. "Even prior to the pandemic, we had an eviction rate in the US that was less than half the historical national average."

It appears unlikely Rosen's measure will move far in the Senate, with the bill not picking up any cosponsors in the upper chamber.

The Cook Political Report last week shifted its assessment of Rosen's seat from its "Lean Democrat" column to "toss-up" after polls indicated the senator is in for a tough contest against her expected Republican opponent, Army veteran Sam Brown.

The Rosen campaign did not say if the Nevada Democrat would return the campaign contributions she received from Blackstone executives when reached by the Free Beacon for comment.

"Unlike her extreme opponents, Senator Rosen has consistently worked to lower skyrocketing home and rent costs for hardworking Nevadans. She will continue standing up against price gouging and other unfair practices by corporate investors in the housing market to help level the playing field for Nevada's middle class families," a Rosen campaign spokesperson told the Free Beacon.