Real Estate Interests Are Biggest West Hollywood City Council Campaign Donors

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UPDATE: 8:30 p.m. If money talks, it looks like the loudest voice in this year’s election for the West Hollywood City Council will continue to be that of the real estate industry.

Campaign donation and spending reports made public by the City Clerk’s office by the end of the day Monday show that real estate interests contributed 43 percent of the $74,145 donated to candidates thus far. Only reports covering four of the nine candidates have been made public. The rest are expected to be released this week. If past history is any indicator, the real estate industry will continue to dominate donations.

Real estate industry donations were overwhelmingly directed to the incumbents, with John Duran so far getting 85 percent of money donated by real estate developers, consultants, lawyers and lobbyists. Mayor Jeffrey Prang got 15 percent of the real estate money. By contrast, challengers Sam Borelli and Nick Garzilli, the only other candidates whose reports have been released thus far, got $250 and $200 respectively from real estate interests. Donations from real estate interests accounted for 36 percent of the total in the 2010 election, and were overwhelmingly directed to incumbents John Heilman and Abbe Land, the longest-serving city council members.

Duran reported total donations of $58,315 in reports covering January through July of last year and the first nineteen days of this year. Forty-six percent of that amount was from real estate interests. Prang reported $17,525 in donations through Jan. 18, with 28 percent of that coming from real estate interests. Borelli reported donations totaling $20,358. Garzilli reported donations totaling $400. A group of lawyers in the real estate practice of Latham & Watkins, the law firm, has donated $1,750 to Duran, his largest donation from a particular group to date. His most interesting donor may be Michael Lucas, a noted porn star and president of Lucas Entertainment, an adult film business based in New York City, who donated $100. Prang’s largest donation from a particular group — $2,000 — also is from Latham & Watkins real estate lawyers. Borelli’s donors don’t fall into any particular category, although several influential retailers who are members of the board of the Avenues of Art, Fashion and Design business development group have donated $1,300.

After real estate interests, the next largest group of overall campaign funders were lawyers with no evident connection with real estate, who accounted for just seven percent of donations, and current and prospective city licensees, who accounted for six percent. Licensees, such as Athens Services, with which the city contracts for trash pickup, Hollywood Towing, which is authorized to tow illegally parked cars, and various taxi companies, must get city permission to operate in West Hollywood.

Campaign donation and spending reports by law had to be filed with the City Clerk’s office by Jan. 25, or mailed with that date as a postmark. Political junkies are most eagerly anticipating reports from two candidates: former council member Steve Martin, a vociferous critic of the council’s longest-serving members and a leader of the campaign to establish council term limits, and Christopher Landavazo, an LA County Sheriff’s Department deputy who has publicly accused the incumbents of intimidating supporters of their opponents. Reports also will be released for challengers Tom Demille, Tristan Schukraft and Rusty Wiggs.

Candidates raised nearly $450,000 for the 2011 city council election, in which John Heilman and Abbe Land were re-elected and Lindsay Horvath lost her seat to challenger John D’Amico.

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10 years ago

Well, my, my, my! What a surprise! (he said, facetiously!) Who would have thought our local politicians would take large sums of money from real estate developers? Let’s hope that the loudest voices in the election are the citizens of West Hollywood. GET OUT AND VOTE! Vote for your choice of candidate and VOTE YES on C. Make your voice heard by voting. It’s time the people HAVE a voice in this tiny town and yes, Mr. Duran, it is 34,000 people not 40,000 as you erroneously stated on CBS NEWS. Check out his apparent distain for someone who voices… Read more »

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