It Takes $500,000 to Buy a WeHo City Council Seat


The latest round of City Council campaign finance reports indicate the seat up for grabs in Tuesday’s WeHo City Council election may be the most expensive in the city’s history. Money raised for the four candidates’ campaigns, including loans to themselves, totals $496,666.

The latest reports, which cover the period through May 15, show that John Heilman has stepped up his campaign fundraising efforts. Whereas last year he had raised only half as much money as had competitor Heidi Shink, since January he has raised $71,247, almost twice the $38,624 raised by Shink.

Cole Ettman has raised $22,250 from Jan. 1 through the May 15 deadline for this latest round of campaign finance reports. And Larry Block has raised $4,703.  Block has alleged that Ettman offered him $20,000 to withdraw from the race, arguing that his candidacy was splitting votes that needed to go to one of the competitors to Heilman, a 30-year Council veteran who is seen as man to beat by the three challengers.

Total money raised both last year and through May 15 this year amounts to $89,421 for Heilman, $70,723 for Shink, $37,517 for Ettman and $7,901 for Block. Each of the candidates also has made a loan to himself or herself. The biggest is the $50,000 Ettman loaned his campaign. Shink has loaned hers $20,200. Block has loaned his campaign $20,000, and Heilman has loaned his campaign $10,100.  Money spent in the March 3 general election for three Council seats, for which 12 people competed, was only a little more than $200,000 a seat.

In addition to the loans to themselves, two of the candidates have significant outstanding bills. In Ettman’s case they total $18,283. Shink’s campaign owes $15,977. Neither Block nor Heilman report outstanding bills.

Heilman’s campaign has been bolstered by donations from WeHo United for John Heilman 2015, an independent expenditure committee, which has raised $140,000 as of May 15 to campaign for his re-election. By law that committee cannot coordinate its efforts with Heilman’s campaign. Shink has been the beneficiary of $50,792 raised by West Hollywood Properties, another independent donor. Most of the donors to the Heilman independent expenditure committee are real estate interests, with the largest of those being Townscape Management. Townscape, the developer of controversial projects at 8899 Beverly Blvd. and 8150 Sunset Blvd., has donated a total of $35,012 to WeHo United. Shink’s biggest supporter is West Hollywood Development, a billboard company owned by Brian and Drake Kennedy that has been involved in several legal battles in efforts to block billboard competitors on the Sunset Strip. West Hollywood Development has spent $50,792 to promote Shink.

  1. Even after I told the Heilman camp that he is the last person for whom I would vote, I have gotten two more phone calls. I throw everything away, before I leave my mailbox. I think it was Cher’s automated call that put me over the top. Throw out all the bums and elect a fresh new face. To you idiots who make judgmental comments about physicality – you are only demeaning yourself.

  2. Takes money to run for office *no big surprises there*

    Evaluate each:
    Where from??? & How much???

    Who will be influencing candidates?

    previous campaign debt & fines

    the wind

    who knows

    after 30 years should be easy

    a half a million for a 2 sq mile part time position
    why so brutal???

  3. Between my partner and myself, we received 8 mailers from Shink yesterday. Some addressed to me, some to my partner and the rest to the both of us.

    In 2015, you’d think a candidate would run a de-duping program to avoid multiple mailers or would run a householding program to put both names on one flyer. Or … maybe she’s flush with cash and doesn’t care about costs.

  4. Woody, I’m proud of you….you seem to be coming around just a little bit.

    And you know, once you’re in that voting booth, no one will ever know who you voted for.

  5. Disgusting! $500,000 for what?! To boost someones ego, and to put someone’s minion in office to secure construction/development deals in West Hollywood!? Why not put that money to better use? Just disgusting! As you have read above, directly from LARRY BLOCK-he has NOT solicited money from citizens, nor taken monies from special group interests because doesn’t want to “owe” anyone anything. This is OUR candidate, and those who continue to think that the other three candidates would serve you better-GET REAL! Do your homework! Larry Block is the only one without a scandal or accusation of misappropriating funds, lawsuits in other states and without making an impression on any seat in office as Heilman has done for over 30 years. Give the new, honest, without scandal candidate a fair shot at keeping this city safe, quaint and affordable-without embarrassment! VOTE LARRY BLOCK IN!

  6. I don’t concur that it “takes” this much money to run for City Council in West Hollywood, although the candidates might “take” that much money from their contributors. There is a cut off point on the need for campaigning, especially the excessive mailers & door hangers that pile up around our homes on the home stretch of the campaigns before being transported, mostly unread, directly to the recycling bins and from which the voters have already tuned out & turned off. John Heilman had the same or similar large developer contributions the last time he ran, & he was just another loser among the 12 candidates who ran. So Heilman’s big loss on March 3 alone proves that large developer contributions are not the be-all & end-all to getting elected. I agree with the above poster that the council’s deputy pay is obscenely excessive & it is disappointing that some of the Councilmembers are so dismissive of such abuse of the City’s money for overpaid personal assistants. It’s another case of the arrogance & sense of self entitlement that those elected to public office seem to always assume for themselves. At least I’ll give Heilman this: On the outside chance that he is elected on June 2, I believe that Heilman, Horvath & Duran will vote to restore some semblance of reason to West Hollywood’s out -of-control “deputy” situation & bring it into line with the common sense system & compensation of other similar cities around us.

  7. Heidi Shink is running on a false record. Shink claims during this election, she has not taken one dime from developers or special interest groups. They all take money from developers. Shink is the only candidate to lie about. Her 460 proves all, but, she still lies. She denies paying herself and her partner, but, it clearly states on her 460 that she did, yet, she still lies. She claims to have been activist for 30 years but, yet, there is no evidence of that. She says she serves as vp, communications at stonewall, planning commission, human services, west hollywood/beverly hills democratic club, but, she did not get one endorsement. Her record on these committees has been dreadful. She missed several meetings and votes. It shows up on the their agenda, but, yet she lies about her record and service.

    My biggest problem with Heidi Shink is, if you have worked with her before, you know, that she stops progress, avoids solutions by not taking a position. She is not listener but rather, a defiant angry person. West Hollywood can’t afford another John D’Amico.

    Shink has not had one good thing to say about West Hollywood. I have never witnessed a candidate attack so many people that help build this city.

    Ms. Shink – West Hollywood is a great city and we are so fortunate to live here. You as a city councilmember in our great city would lead to the 3rd vote for John D’Amico’s views.

    Deputygate – Ms. Shink will be the 3rd vote to keep the deputy system, so she can keep her bff – Deputy Michelle Rex in her $200,000 secretary job.

    Heilman and Block will vote to change the deputy system. I have not heard Cole Ettman’s position on deputygate.

  8. On my end I have not made calls for money this election. After pulling papers quickly to run for the June seat my plan was to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ and not call people for money. Thank you to the friends or supporters who made donations on their own. I’ve turned down checks from a developer, and a lobbyist, because I want to be independent and not owe anybody anything. (except the voters)

    Some people like to go out for expensive dinners, others like to go to the abbey for $20 drinks, (i don’t drink just don’t like it), and still others are saving money for the kids college, or private schools or weddings or bar mitzvahs.. I don’t have kids. My family is West Hollywood. So welcome to my bar mitzvah! I’ve had a ball meeting all of you and helping to hold the special interests accountable and doing my part our city a better place to live.

  9. This isn’t surprising. West Hollywood mirrors what is going on all over the country. Wealthy interests have been purchasing politicians forever. But now they can do it even easier thanks to the Supreme Court, Super PACs, dark money, etc. The most important thing voters can do is follow the money and that’s why a free press is more important than ever. What will the politician have to do once elected to pay back the donors who made it possible. It may not always be obvious, but there is an eventual payback.

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