by Larry Block
An independent expenditure committee supporting the campaign of Lindsey Horvath for LA County Supervisor has raised over $60,000 in its first couple of weeks. The name of the Committee is “Neighbors for Lindsey Horvath” but there aren’t any neighbors on the list of donors.
Legally, Horvath or her campaign are not allowed to coordinate with an independent expenditure committee.
Horvath is not permitted to make calls to donors to fund the IE or coordinate communications, messaging or strategy with the committee. If she does , she is breaking the campaign finance laws.
One elected official outside of West Hollywood asked me if I knew about the committee. I said ‘no did not’. They asked- who is John Erickson? I had to explain that John Erickson was a current City Council member. Ahh, let me get you the link to the committee.
It was easy to learn who was making the calls. Barbera Grover is making a majority of the calls along with Horvath’s co-council member John Erickson. Grover was Horvath’s former campaign manager. Grover also worked with Horvath, former Councilmember Abbe Land and Councilmember John Erickson putting together a series of video interviews called Weho Stories about those who were instrumental in creating the city in 1984.
It’s hard to believe that there is no coordination between Lindsey Horvath and these callers.
The donations to the independent expenditure for Horvath are the same donors as those listed on Horvath’s previous campaign report. Here is a sampling of the donations to the independent expenditure committee:
$3500 from Dyamn Investments – a fund run by the Emrani brothers – a West Hollywood real estate development family.
$10,000 from Richard Weintraub – a prominent West Hollywood Real Estate Developer.
$1,500 from Jim Arnone, an attorney from Latham and Watkins who represents Townscape Development on Beverly Blvd., the Arts Club Development on Sunset Strip and the proposed new development attempting to tear down the Viper Room at Larrabee and Sunset Blvd.
$2,500 from Hotelier Jeff Klein who owns the Sunset Tower and San Vicente Bungalows.
$10,000 from Athens Services, the City of West Hollywood residential and commercial trash contractor who just had their contract terms expanded by the City.
$20,000 from Armenco Capital which is a cannabis company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is trying to get a stronger foothold in West Hollywood.
Not one of these donors is a resident or “neighbor” in West Hollywood.
Erickson is legally able to make calls for the independent expenditure committee. However, he would NOT be allowed to coordinate with her or her campaign committee in any way. Is that plausible? In addition, a call from one City Council member asking to support another City Council member puts the donor or contractor in an awkward position.
“I had to give, I have a ______. was one response. This entity did not want to give their name. People feel pressure when they have business in front of the City Council and get a call for money. Erickson has been asked to confirm or deny soliciting calls on behalf of Horvath but declined to comment.
While we could not confirm that Lindsey’s former Campaign Manager, City Lobbyist Estevan Montemayor and current Horvath appointee to the Rent Stabilization Commission is making calls on her behalf it would not be illegal. After all there is no prohibition on political appointees from powerful commissions making fundraising calls. And there is no prohibition on former campaign managers being appointed to boards and commissions. Horvath led an Ethics Task Force initiative that wrote the rules. The Ethics Task Force finished their work and this what we get.
Horvath, Erickson and Grover appear to have coordinated in another way. Erickson appointed Chelsea Byers to the Human Services Commission. Byers is the girlfriend of another Horvath campaign manager Austin Cyr. Byers has filed papers to run in this years West Hollywood City Council race. If Horvath makes the runoff in June. Grover is expected to be Byers campaign consultant. It’s a cesspool of insiders double dealing.
Horvath plays by her own rules. Lindsey introduced a ‘vetting’ system for commissioners when she was first elected in 2015. But, she appears to have veered far away from those humble beginnings. This year she appointed Public Safety commissioner Nika Soon Shiong who was not vetted against other candidates. Her qualification for the Public Safety Commission is her dad owns the LA Times.
In practice, Lindsey’s appointments of former campaign managers and Democratic party political hacks (many from outside the City of West Hollywood) are turning West Hollywood into an unethical political swamp which harms our City in the long run.
Maybe Abbe Land deserves some credit. She gave us both Lindsey Horvath and John Erickson. Abbe Land made fundraising for her pet projects an art form. Remember the days when all those city dollars went to Saban Free Clinic and the Trevor Project? Abbe Land was the CEO of both non profit organizations and saw no conflict targeting city dollars into a non profit that paid her salary.
It was Lauren Meister who led the push to lower the requirement for reporting “behested payments” down from $20,000 to $5,000 and then to $1,000. While former Councilmembers John Heilman and John Duran historically raised large sums from corporate citizens for non-profits— neither of them received a salary from these non profit organizations like Abbe Land did. (hundreds of thousands of dollars per year). We asked Abbe is she could confirm or deny making calls on behalf of the Independent Expenditure Committee but she didn’t reply.
In the meantime, people and businesses that want to do business in West Hollywood can probably expect a call from one of the above. If you get a call be prepared to pay up a bit more this year. The maximum donation to a Los Angeles County Supervisor campaign is $4900. But not so with independent expenditure committees. There is NO limit on how much a person can be squeezed for a donation. The asking price seems to be $10,000 to $20,000.
The Ethics Task Force completed its work, – but it appears there are many loopholes and more work to be done. Dont be fooled by the mail from “Neighbors for Lindsey Horvath”, they are not your Neighbors.