Heidi Shink, a candidate in the June race for West Hollywood City Council, has given herself $7,800 from money raised for the March 2015 election in an apparent violation of campaign finance rules.
Shink’s Dec. 31, 2014, campaign finance statement shows payments of $999 and $6,795.55 to an entity identified as Shortcuts Music, which is located at her apartment on Curson Avenue. The $999 payment is identified as being for “information technology” such as email or the Internet and the $6,795.55 payment is identified as being for office expenses.
Shink’s June 30, 2014, finance statement also shows a payment of $500 for campaign consulting services to Caitlin Stansbury, her wife, who writes about and consults on wine.
In an interview with WEHOville, Shink said she made the payments to repay herself for expenses she incurred in the March 2015 City Council race (in which she ultimately decided not to run). However state campaign finance law bars candidates from reimbursing themselves for expenditures they make for their own campaigns. Shink’s payment to Stansbury, legal at the time, would not be permitted today because of a state law enacted in September 2014 that bars candidates from paying their spouses or domestic partners for services.
Shink also apparently attempted to use money raised for the March campaign in her June Council race, another violation of campaign finance laws. In a letter to David Gould, her campaign finance manager, City Clerk Yvonne Quarker noted that the election date on Shink’s Dec. 31, 2014, filing had been altered to indicate that the $17,214 left in her campaign account would be spent toward the June 2 election.
“The City Attorney’s office has discussed this rule with you,” Quarker said in the letter to Gould. She said Shink must return the money she raised for the March election, donate it to a non-profit organization or dispose of it in other non-political ways authorized by the California Political Reform Act. “If you continue to disregard the City’s campaign finance regulations, we will be forced to refer this matter to the City Prosecutor for further action,” the letter said.
The Shink campaign responded to a story in WEHOville about Quarker’s letter by saying “Our campaign has not only complied with the letter of the campaign finance laws set forth by the City of West Hollywood, but the spirit of them as well. Ms. Shink did not run in the March 3rd election cycle, and absolutely no monies raised for the March 3rd election have ever been spent on this June 2nd campaign …”
The first round of campaign finance statements for the June 2 race was due to be filed April 23 with the West Hollywood City Clerk and are expected to be made public soon.