WeHo Council Members Solicit $65k for Charities They Support

Two West Hollywood City Council members have solicited donations of $65,000 to charities they support, with some of that money coming from city vendors or developers and lobbyists with projects in WeHo .

John Duran
John Duran

The donations, sought by John D’Amico and John Duran, were listed on behest reports filed over the past 12 months. State law requires that elected officials disclose the amount and source of any money that they request on behalf of charities.

Until last year, city records showed that former Councilmember Abbe Land, who served as co-CEO of the Saban Free Clinic and CEO of the Trevor Project, was the only council member who had filed such statements in recent years. Such reports have long been required by the state for donations of $5,000 or more. The city has set a limit for donations of $1,000 or more. D’Amico’s reports filed over the past 12 months include donations solicited by him as long ago as 2013.

Duran’s requests, which resulted in donations of $35,000, were for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) on whose board he chairs.

The donors were:

— The Arts Club of London, which has sought special permission from the city in order to erect its nine-story WeHo branch on Sunset Boulevard. It gave $10,000.

— Wells Fargo, the bank that has been embroiled in a scandal after it was disclosed that its employees opened over two million phony accounts and, in Los Angeles, charged fake fees to applicants for mortgages, and also because it is helping fund the controversial Dakota Pipeline project. Mayor Lauren Meister in February asked that the city re-evaluate its relationship with Wells Fargo because of its connection with the Dakota Pipeline. Wells Fargo donated $5,000. The GMCLA website indicates it has received more than $50,000 from Wells Fargo.

— Merrill Lynch, the investment bank. It donated $10,000.

— Greg Weaver, owner of CFI Medical in Van Nuys, who also donated to Duran’s 2014 campaign for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and is a donor to many other political campaigns. Weaver donated $10,000.

John D’Amico

D’Amico’s requests were all on behalf of Equality California, the LGBT civil rights group.

The donors were:

— Athens Services, the city’s trash pickup contractor and a major donor to GMCLA. It donated $10,000.

— Faring Capital, a prominent real estate developer in West Hollywood. Faring gave $5,000.

— Mike Lewis, a lobbyist who represents developers and construction firms. Lewis donated $5,000.

— Wyatt Molineaux, a vice president at Young’s Market Company, a wine distributor. He donated $10,000.

The City Council set the $1,000 floor for filing behest statements in September over the opposition of Duran and Councilmember John Heilman.

In their opposition to reducing the behest filing limit, both Duran and Heilman argued that the state behest requirement was imposed because of a scandal in the state legislature. “I think this is unnecessary. I don’t think this has been an issue,” said Heilman, who is involved with several non-profits. “I think we should adhere to the state limit.”

“I really think this is contrary to good public policy,” said Duran, who noted that he is involved in various LGBT non-profits.

  1. Actually, Chris Sanger, please present a list of proposed projects by developers that were denied by council. Oh, that’s right, there is no list: it’s a blank page. NOTHING is denied in our city, so that result would through logical deduction illustrate the effects of donations to political campaigns and charitable donations toward development approval in this city. Oh, and the banks finance the development. It is, in fact a vicious circle, as Woody stated. I have friends in the development community, and I understand that they understand that this is the game. So, please, no hollow defense. Let’s admit it: this is business as usual, and any restrictions and changes that eliminate the perception of corruption in government should be welcomed. What possible defense would one present to halt openly candidly sunshine laws that illustrate who is giving these donations on any level? Only those with something to hide.

  2. Duran uses his political connections to finance his “charity” connections claiming there’s no pay to play is a sick joke. I doubt dEvelopers, trash services and lobbyists are fans of choral music. But this is no surprise. Like when Duran claimed his Grindr episode wasn’t pay to play. Then there was the credit card episode with the D.A. Perhaps the Attorney General should get the FBI to look into the councilman’s MO and do a little investigating re pay for play in the creative city!

  3. I’m being taken back to the night “they” approved the $16 or was it $18 million contract for Athens. John D’Amico’s “reason” for approving the proposed contract was, as I recall, “They pick up our garbage, I mean they take care of our trash” or some other gibberish that almost gave people whiplash. Now I see the whole picture. If only I had recorded some of these silly willy nilly comments for posterity

  4. It’s not safe to assume that at all Woody. This is pennies for these companies. They contribute because their corporate profile includes (including for tax purposes) some donations. They do so as well because they like to think it gets their phone calls answered, not that it will have a big impact on votes.
    If you think there is a quid pro quo then prove it. WeHo has election after election where this charge is made. Put up specific instances. The burden is on you to prove the charge.

  5. I suppose it’s safe to assume they would never vote against a developer who made contributions to their designated charities, otherwise the money would cease to be donated. It’s not about the worthiness of the charities, but definitely about a quid pro quo relationship that has nothing to do with what’s best for the city. The people’s voices cannot compete with the developers’ money. Raising money from developers by any government employee or city agency should be forbidden. Otherwise it’s a vicious circle of disingenuous behavior by both parties. I’ve always wondered exactly if dishonest politicians are attracted to corruption or if corruption attracts honest politicians. In any case, politicians on all levels seem to eventually get there one way or another. Sad

  6. Just one more time confirm what i always said, Most non profit organization are Bussniss,
    so sad. we donate money for a cause to support people in needs, not for people egos.
    We get what we deserve.
    Absolutely sick. between our developer and those fake non profit, no wonder BEING ALIVE have hard time to get founding to support people living with AIDS,
    they are the true HEROES. for over 30 years gave and still giving so much to those in needs, but very little is been done to support them. The are people of love, not people of money or fame. John D’Amico was right “it only take money $300.000 to get a sit. i guess it’s just the way we are. money keep buying our lives.
    we can learn a lot from TEL AVIV, ISRAEL. Where Pride mean PRIDE for all people.
    See you soon, WEHO. I will be in WEHO I’m visiting the USA for 3 weeks, vacation and some business.
    When you change nothing NOTHING CHANGE.
    Love NO Hate. nir.

  7. Our AIDS Memorial just had a budget increase of 1.1 million dollars. I hope all the city council members will put the same time and effort into raising funds for ‘all things local’ as they do for the these organizations.

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