Hydee Feldstein Soto’s Front-Facing Feminism Is Just That: A Front
The candidate for city attorney donated over $5,000 directly to Republicans and Republican super PACs that oppose abortion rights.
The upcoming runoff election has several progressive candidates facing off with more moderate, establishment candidates. The city attorney race is no exception — with Hydee Feldstein Soto, who finished second in the June 2022 primary, going up against progressive civil rights attorney Faisal Gill.
Despite her second-place finish, Feldstein Soto now has the backing of the Democratic establishment, with endorsements coming from every major Democratic organization in Los Angeles. But a deeper look into Feldstein Soto’s background shows that she’s spent her time and money in ways that oppose her own platform and that of Democratic groups who’ve endorsed her.
She snagged endorsements from political groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Political Committee, which “empowers women to engage politically, using our voices and resources to elect women candidates, at all levels of government, who support reproductive rights, pay equity, and human and civil rights.” But her tenure as a lawyer, along with past political contributions, run counter to the empowerment or support of women’s rights that her endorsements imply.
Feldstein Soto’s personal campaign contributions have gone to mostly Democratic candidates, but she’s also donated over $5,000 directly to Republicans and Republican super PACs who opposed abortion rights. Most recently, she donated $1,000 in 2010 to Senator Pat Toomey and $250 in 2021 to Liz Cheney, who voted in line with Trump’s position 92% of the time.
Beyond her personal contributions between 2003 and 2005, Feldstein Soto contributed $4,200 to her employer’s political action committee — Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP PAC. During the 2004 and 2006 election cycles, the PAC gave $87,600 to Republican candidates throughout the country. This included Senators Rick Santorum (PA), who at the time wanted to privatize social security, and Representative Marsha Blackburn (TN), who in 2006 voted yes on constitutionally defining marriage as between one woman and one man in addition to voting yes on banning same-sex marriage in 2004.
It’s not just Feldstein Soto’s political contributions that run counter to her endorsements. Throughout her tenure as an equity partner at Paul Hastings LLP from 1998 to 2004, the firm represented various multibillion-dollar corporations that were engaged in various allegations of discrimination and anti-worker lawsuits.
In 2004, the firm represented Boeing in a federal class action lawsuit in which 28,000 female workers alleged that the company had engaged in sex discrimination by paying male workers higher wages and denying female employees job training and promotions. The suit also alleged that some female employees were sexually harassed. The parties reached a settlement agreement in 2004 in which Boeing agreed to pay between $40.6 million and $72.5 million.
Homelessness and housing is at the top of Feldstein Soto’s political priorities. Her campaign says she’ll work to make the building of housing easier and will streamline the process in building affordable housing. But most of Feldstein Soto’s work on housing has been in opposition to policies that would use rezoning to increase its supply. She has worked in opposition to upzoning policies like SB50, writing several op-eds against the law which would have rezoned communities that are currently only zoned for single-family homes and would have allowed the construction of multi-family housing near transit lines.
In LA, over 75% of land is zoned for single-family housing, which has resulted in a massive shortage in housing options. Housing advocates see upzoning as a way to incentivize building more dense housing options to grow the housing stock. Advocates to upzoning point out that single-family zoning exacerbates inequality as it is explicitly classist and racist, and continues to promote exclusion.
Feldstein Soto has even contributed $27,600 to PACs and politicians that opposed upzoning bills proposed in the state legislature — in addition to having served as a principal officer of the now defunct A Better Way Forward to House California committee that was formed to oppose upzoning regulations.
Her time on the PICO Neighborhood Council was spent more on defeating upzoning bills than advocating the building of affordable or even public buildings in the community. In March 2018, Feldstein Soto voted to approve a community impact statement opposing SB827, a proposed bill that would have loosened zoning restrictions on residential properties near rail and bus stops and would have eliminated parking minimums in areas near public transportation, helping to reduce new construction costs — as one underground parking space can cost up to $50,000.
The community impact statement released by the PICO Neighborhood Council expressed concern that the legislation would lead to more luxury condominiums being built and did not promote affordable housing. The impact statement stressed the need for “local planning,” which is how communities insulate themselves from building necessary housing in order to protect “neighborhood character.” A neighborhood council’s control over which projects to support because of “neighborhood character” further perpetuates systemic racism in building housing. SB827 died in the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee before it could make it to the floor to vote.
Feldstein Soto’s statement of economic interests is the second largest out of any candidate running, with millions of dollars in stock holdings that cover 37 pages. Profiting off the same corporations that cause environmental harm or lobby the City Council for specific laws is a conflict of interest in both political stances and the interests of taxpayers.
Her investments in oil and gas companies are at odds with her campaign promises to “promote and protect clean air and water and a safe environment for every community in the City regardless of zip code.” It is also at odds with the city initiatives for a more sustainable Los Angeles. One of those companies is Devon Energy, which has oil and gas sites in multiple states as well as a vision statement which includes the goal “to be the premier independent oil and natural gas company in North America.” ConocoPhillips is another oil stock holding in Feldstein Soto’s disclosures. The company ranks among the top 20 companies responsible for a third of carbon emissions in the world.
Hydee’s list of endorsements and institutional backing is contradictory to her time as a lawyer and her political donations. And like the city attorney’s race itself, these discrepancies must not be overlooked when it comes time to vote.
Knock LA is a journalism project paid for by Ground Game LA. This article was not authorized or paid for by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.