The state Fair Political Practices Committee has acknowledged that it is opening an investigation into an allegation that a committee formed to support challengers Cynthia Blatt and Steve Martin and oppose incumbents John Duran and John Heilman in the March 7 WeHo City Council election has violated state and local election laws.
The complaint was made by local activist James Duke Mason, who is a backer of Heilman and Duran and a member of the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board.
The West Hollywood Money and Politics Committee (WeHoMAP) distributed mailers that don’t list who paid for them, which is required by state law, according to a letter from George Lin, Mason’s lawyer, that was sent to West Hollywood’s City Clerk and the enforcement officer of the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
The mailers also did not note that they were “not authorized” by the candidates for whom they advocate. Under the law, independent expenditure committees are not supposed to coordinate their activities with the campaigns of the candidates they are promoting and must acknowledge that in their campaign materials.
Scott Schmidt, treasurer of WeHoMAP, contested the allegation, saying WeHoMAP was formed as a “general purpose committee,” in other words one not solely focused on one election, and that the requirements cited by Lin are for an independent expenditure committee focused on only one election, such as the West Hollywood City Council race.
“When we created the committee, our intent was to educate voters in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, just as our website and FPPC Form 410 say, and we have continued to do,” Schmidt said in an email to WEHOville. “As long as developers and lobbyists continue to try to influence local elections, WeHoMAP intends to be around exposing the truth about their activities
The mailer referenced is one that asks “What do developers and lobbyists expect for the $275,000 + they have invested in Councilmen Heilman and Duran?” The mailer states that Blatt and Martin have received a total of only $500 from real estate interests.