23 Aug 2014
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Council Candidates Raise Collective $395K

Abbe Land has the most money in her campaign fund with $102,182, followed by John D’Amico with $96,016.

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West Hollywood City Council candidates have raised a collective total of $95,755 in the past month according to campaign financial statements released last week.

That brings the total amount that all candidates have available to spend on this election to $395,049, a staggering amount for a City Council election.

John D’Amico has raised the most money in the past month, a whopping $44,528. Far behind him in second place is Steve Martin with $15,937. Next in the month’s money race are incumbents Lindsey Horvath with $12,465 and with $12,075.

Scott Schmidt is in fifth place with $6,851. Incumbent lags way behind in the month’s fundraising with $2,900 while Mito Aviles came in with $999.

Candidates Lucas John and Mark Gonzaga have both filed forms stating they will not raise or spend more than $1,000 on their campaigns and therefore are not required to file any other financial breakdowns.

Although these latest financial reports show who’s been working the fundraising circuit the hardest in February, the overall totals are very different. Adding the February totals to the totals reveal that Land, who has served on the council for 18 years, still has the most money in her campaign fund with $102,182.

Following closely on her heels is D’Amico with a total of $96,016.

Horvath, who was appointed to the council in May 2009 after the death of longtime Councilman Sal Guariello and consequently has never faced the voters before, came in third with a total of $87,393.

Meanwhile, Heilman, who has served on the City Council continuously since 1984 has $70,120 available to him. Martin comes in fifth with $17,777, followed by Schmidt with $16,868 and Aviles pulls up the rear with $4,693.

The individual reports offer several noteworthy items.  

D’Amico has loaned his campaign a total of $25,000, almost a quarter of his funds, since he entered the race—$10,000 in December and $15,000 in February. Although it is a common practice for a candidate to loan his campaign money, the size of that loan is unusual. However that amount is not outrageous considering that in 2010, Meg Whitman loaned her unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign more than $140 million.

Other candidates have also loaned their campaigns money. Martin provided $7,500 to his campaign, more than 40 percent of the money in his fund. Schmidt also wrote a check for $1,000 to his campaign and Aviles’ business, CM Squared, loaned his campaign $99.

As for the individual contributions, the most startling were on Heilman’s statement. Of the $2,900 that Heilman raised in the past month, 61.20 percent of it, $1,775, came from attorneys working for the law firm Latham & Watkins. Each of the five Latham & Watkins attorneys donating (including  Jim Arnone, who serves as board treasurer for the Weho Library Fund and will have an elevator vestibule named after him in the new library) deals in land use and/or real estate law. 

Latham & Watkins attorneys also contributed $250 to Horvath’s campaign and $500 to Land’s.

Other noteworthy contributions include $500 each to Heilman and Land from Bakersfield-based Russo Construction, a company that also donated $500 to Horvath in January. 

revealed that development dollars account for almost a third of Land and Heilman’s campaign funds, and a fourth of Horvath’s. Development dollars include money from developers, lobbyists for developers, land use attorneys, real estate brokers, contractors and architects—all people who have a financial interest in property development.

Challengers for the three City Council seats, especially Martin and D’Amico, have charged that the incumbents are beholden to developers for sizable donations and consequently vote to approve their construction projects despite residents' objections.

Also noteworthy, the  Iranian American Jewish Federation, which has a temple on Crescent Heights at Fountain Avenue, made $500 contributions to all three incumbents as well as D’Amico, Martin and Schmidt. No other organization or individual has given donations to six of the candidates.  

Records also show that Heilman has paid $2,033 in rent on the Movietown Plaza campaign headquarters he shares with Horvath and Land. In the first pre-election statement released in January, Heilman did not report paying any rent, a discrepancy that  caused candidate Schmidt to file a letter of complaint with City Attorney asking for an investigation. 

Land also paid $2,033 for the February rent on their campaign headquarters, but Horvath paid nothing. However Horvath’s first pre-election statement from January shows that she paid $2,033 that month.  

Given that Land listed paying $6,100 in rent on her first financial statement, it appears that Land covered the entire rent in January and that Horvath paid her portion of the February rent early. The legality of such an arrangement is questionable and will be up to Jenkins to determine.

 There are three seats to vote for in our council election March 8. 

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