West Hollywood’s City Prosecutor has determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue a case against Heidi Shink for violating city campaign contribution laws but has issued a “courtesy reminder” that she must obey the law in disposing of surplus funds in her campaign coffer.
A letter announcing the decision was sent to Shink’s campaign treasurer on June 18 by James Eckart of Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak, the law firm engaged by the city to look into allegations that she was violating city laws in her use of money she raised for a possible run for a City Council seat in the March 3 election. Shink decided not to run in that race but was a candidate in the June 2 special election for a single seat on the City Council. She lost to John Heilman.
City Clerk Yvonne Quarker questioned financial records filed by Shink’s campaign in a letter dated Feb. 12 to David Gould, Shink’s campaign finance manager. In that letter, Quarker noted that the election date on Shink’s Dec. 31, 2014, campaign finance filing for the March 3 general election had been altered to indicate that the $17,214 left in her campaign account would be spent toward the June 2 special election. Diversion of funds raised for a general election campaign for use in a special election campaign is a violation of city law. Questions also were raised by Shink’s payment to herself of $7,800 from the March 3 campaign fund, which is illegal. Some of Shink’s opponents also complained that her campaign materials for the June 2 election contained a number indicating it was being paid for out of funds for the March 3 campaign. The Shink campaign responded with a letter from the state acknowledging that it had erred in not initially giving Shink’s June 2 campaign a new number.
In his letter, Eckart noted that Shink’s last filing for the March 3 race showed $13,061 remaining in her campaign account and a debt of $800, which the filing indicated was owed to Shink herself. Under state law, that money is deemed a surplus fund as of June 30 and can only be spent to cover campaign expenses, as a donation to a non-profit organization, as a contribution to a political party or to pay for campaign-related legal fees. Money not used for those purposes must be returned to the donors.