The latest campaign donation filings for the Nov. 3 City Council election show that Councilmember John Heilman’s re-election campaign has brought in $99,020.
Those donations, made between Jan. 1 and June 30, include a total of $620 from people who gave less than $100 each. Such donors aren’t identified in the campaign filings. The remaining $98,400 in donations came from 184 people or businesses 33 of which are West Hollywood residents.
Forty one percent of the money donated to Heilman’s re-election campaign ($40,750) came from real estate interests, which include real estate developers and the lawyers and lobbyists and architects who represent them or work with them. The most prominent developers included Joseph, Daniel, and Simon Mani, who each made the maximum donation of $1,000 as did Daniel’s wife, Tsipi, and Simon’s wife, Rachel, for a total of $5,000.
The Mani Brothers own major pieces of real estate in West Hollywood, including the office towers at 9200 and 9201 Sunset Blvd., and their financial support for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has made them controversial figures in West Hollywood, which bills itself as a progressive city. The Manis have donated thus far a total of $249,900 to the re-election campaign of Donald Trump and the National Republican Congressional Committee. However, local politicians such as Councilmember Heilman and Mayor Lindsey Horvath, who has been outspoken in her denunciation of Trump, have not refused to accept their donations.
Heilman’s campaign also received donations of $1,000 from each of seven members of the family of Jason Illoulian, whose Faring is one of West Hollywood’s biggest real estate developers. Developer Ben Soroudi, who has been trying for nearly ten years to get the city to approve a mixed-use development at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd., and his family members donated a total of $5,000.
Charles Essig, who is involved in the 8850 Sunset project, donated $1,000 as did John Irwin. of Townscape Management, the developer of the projects at 8899 Beverly Blvd. and 8150 Sunset Blvd.
A total of $3,500 was donated from billboard owners, including Brad Berkley of Dallas, Tex., CEO of Big Outdoor ($1,000), Lawrence Legg of Hollywood, Fla., owner of E.T. Legg & Associations ($1,000), and Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media in Columbus, Oh., ($1,000). Athens Services , who the city has granted a contract to pick up trash, and its executives donated $2,500. Gary Minzer of Los Angeles, president of Hollywood Tow, donated $250. Each of three donors with ties to the Lord Jones and Chroma cannabis companies, donated $500. Rey Luna, controller at Wheels, the West Hollywood-headquartered dockless electric bike business, donated $1,000.
Mayor Lindsey Horvath donated $250 and former City Councilmember Abbe Land donated $500. Jeffrey Prang, a former WeHo City Councilmember who now is L.A. County Assessor, donated $250.
Thus far there are seven people who have declared themselves to be candidates in the Nov. 3 election for the City Council seats now held by Heilman and John Duran, who also is running for re-election. Candidates have until July 30 to file this latest campaign finance report. Reports covering donations during all of 2019 were filed in January.
The only candidates who raised money in 2019 were Sepi Shyne, who reported $4,950 in contributions, Noemi Torres, who reported contributions of $4,291, and John Duran, who raised $107,524,with 35% of that coming from real estate development interests.
Neither Duran nor Shyne nor challengers Larry Block and Marco Colantonio have yet filed their 2020 contribution reports. Torres recently filed hers, which showed she had raised 12,989, bringing her total thus far to $17,280. John Erickson has raised $60,856 this year (no contributions were made in 2019).
The 2020 campaign finance reports also show that Mayor Lindsey Horvath has raised $9,860. Horvath ended her successful 2019 re-election campaign with $20,000 in debt. After that March election she pulled in $9,510 in donations during the rest of 2019, with much of that coming from billboard companies. Her donations so far this year total $9,860, with $1,000 coming from Gary M. Clifford II of Glendora, an executive with Athens Services, and $3,850 coming from various real estate interests including Justin Barth, who is involved in the 8615 West Knoll Drive project.
The City Council decided in a four-to-one vote in February to raise the limit on campaign donations from $500 to $1,000. Councilmember Lauren Meister voted no.
Supporters of increasing the limit argued that it would reduce the likelihood of the formation of independent expenditure committees. There is no limit on what one can donate to an IEC, and there is no limit on what they can spend to promote a candidate so long as they do not coordinate their efforts with a candidate’s campaign. That is a regulation that is frequently violated, although such violations are difficult to prove.
Special interests such as real estate developers in West Hollywood frequently solicit donations of the maximum amount from family members and friends who do not live in or have any obvious interest in West Hollywood so as to override the $1,000 limit.
We have founders that have served in their residency in Weho since 1995 on boards of non profits and certified interventionists, therapy and others within our group. One of our hopes had been since 1995 till today to address the negligence and violence that advocates have faced from LASD not assisting or even showing up to arrest violators of LGBT DV or related violent crimes at times. We have also had communications with John for 20 plus years, and one of our members was asked to run for City Council in the 90’s as a city event producer/fundraiser and creator… Read more »
I would like to hear a vision and policy agenda for all that money
Ironic isn’t it ? John Why not move on with dignity and give someone else a chance ? Haven’t you been here long enough ? It’s all about the money instead of your neighbors and neighborhood.
“Developer Ben Soroudi, who has been trying for nearly ten years to get the city to approve a mixed-use development at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd., and his family members donated a total of $5,000.” This sounds more like an example of how donating to campaigns doesn’t always speed up the process to get a project approved. Instead of hinting that contributions influence decisions, we should be given dates of contributions, dates of project votes, and vote outcomes – then we can all see whether the facts support the allegations hinted here. While understanding where the money is coming from is… Read more »
Well maybe Mr. Soroudi, after 10 years, has decided to kick up the contributions to get that project finally approved. It would be nice to know who your neighbors contributed to, since they actually live here. It’s more interesting to know who those Beverly Hills real estate tycoons contribute to, because we all know West Hollywood is “the most progressive city money can buy”! And if you need evidence that money can buy you love in West Hollywood, look at the 8899 Beverly condo project. The Townscape guys poured the money into city council election campaigns — including Heilman and… Read more »
At least Townscape chose a capable architect for their 8899 Beverly Project. Soroudi did not. He decided to work with the purloined plans from Stephen Kanner who passed away and then made exponential changes, gobbling up residential propertie until it became a Lime Green Cruise Ship docked at West Knoll.
I wouldn’t know from the article whether he decided to kick up the contributions or not because the article makes the implication without doing the research and providing the complete picture. I’m asking for a more complete picture with dates of contributions, dates of project votes and those outcomes. Then people can form their own conclusions based on the facts.
For a clearer picture, perhaps the FBI should come in and investigate if John Duran is getting a rent decrease from the Mani Brothers.
That would be a major conflict for a elected official.
Since Duran would be influenced on voting yes for anything the Mani Brothers proposed. Plus there are Duran’s tax liens. Which would indicate that he is unable to handle his own finances, let alone WEHOs, and would always be very dependent on political donations. The pay for play problem. As for Townscape, they bought John Heilman, John Duran and Lindsey Horvath.
The 8150 Sunset Blvd project developers have been donating $$ for over five years. The over sized project has been objected to by hundreds of nearby residents. The latest GIFT to the developers is the elimination of a safety right turn lane (Sunset Blvd to Crescent Heights Blvd GIVING additional city property to the developers (The Traffic Dept said this was dangerous) But they are getting it. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
To be correct, this was a decision taken by LA City Council on this project. West Hollywood was not part of the decision making. Although the city did fils a lawsuit against the project, the outcome was a settlement including some accommodations to the sewer system on Havenhurst and the installation of bollards or a type of barrier to eliminate traffic from the 8150 site to travel south on Havenhurst.
We desperately need to pass new City Council rules which prohibit any/all campaign donations from “real estate interests.” I have f–king had it with *West Hollywood being sold out to developers!!* They are making our city *unlivable* for us residents, while they kick back in Beverly Hills or Malibu or wherever else raking in the profits from our misery. Our Council members are a joke, they’re puppet$ for these developers. Just take a look at that insanely gargantuan Dubai luxury hotel they’re allowing to be overdeveloped on Sunset Blvd. between San Vicente and Larrabee. No resident thinks it’s a good… Read more »
It seems like the ability to raise money to pay off debt gives the incumbents a huge advantage to skirt the law or at least avoid taking contributions from unpopular developers prior to the election. We had set time limits for fundraising to take the money out of decision making. But $20,000 is a lot of debt which means the fundraising never stops. How can we reform the campaign finances when our “progressive” incumbents are always finding ways to game the system.
I know I’m being naive but maybe if the public financed elections council members wouldn’t be beholden to special interests like developers and billboard companies. To get a speed bump on Elevado it took two years of haranguing, a stop sign on Doheny and Elevado unthinkable but a massive Illoulian project on Robertson and Santa Monica seems a priority. Don’t think it’s the residence clamoring for more, denser developements but clearly the special interests have the ear of Heilman and Duran and the rest just acquiesce.
F O L L O W THE M O N E Y. end of discussion.
Heilman and Duran have spent a lifetime making Weho what it is today. Weho wouldn’t be what it is today without the two of them. I thank them. They have both been integral to the success of the city. I hope they both win again. And this Lauren MEISTER, you speak of. Name one thing she has actually accomplished? Her parking plan she pushed when first elected? It contradicted every principle of urban planning and staff had to find multiple ways to nicely tell her that everything she said made no sense. It’s a constant dance for staff to help… Read more »
The truth is that they lost site of the WeHo we want and need. This city doesn’t represent much of the LGBTQ community that it once was. Restaurants and Bars can’t afford the leases so they continue to close. My neighborhood has 3 closed restaurants but 3 sex shops (ok, that’s on point) within 2 block walk.
At least Lauren bothers to read through the materials that are provided and thoughtfully considers them. Duran is looking to score points with whatever boys he can. He has abused his position and traded power for sex. It’s time fora change!
I take issue with WeHo’s self billing.
“…West Hollywood, which bills itself as a progressive city.”
Am I wrong, or is this a banner year for campaign donations?
Where do these guys spend their money, anyway? I never see campaign events listed. Donor-only events?