WeHo City Council Campaign Donations Focused Mostly on Ballot Measures

The latest campaign contribution reports show that a total of $1.32 million has been donated to candidates in the March 5 election for West Hollywood City Council and to campaigns supporting or opposing  tax and development measures for the ballot.

election 2017, west hollywood city council

Forty-four percent of the donations of the donations ($578,004) were focused on an ultimately unsuccessful effort by Unite Here Local 11, the hotel and restaurant workers union, to put on the ballot a measure that, if approved by voters, would have forced the West Hollywood City Council to rescind its approval of the Robertson Lane hotel and shopping center project. Faring, the developer of the project,  donated $323,054 to an effort to counter the campaign in which Unite Here spent $255,950 to gather signatures of  voters to put the measure on the March 5 ballot. United Here failed to get the signatures of 10% of the city’s voters, which was the minimum requirement for putting it on the ballot.

Forty-two percent of the donations ($550,000) have gone to a fight over the Arts Club. A committee called Citizens for a Better West Hollywood, organized by United Here, has raised $250,000 to promote a measure on the March 5 ballot that would rescind the City Council’s approval of the Arts Club, a project proposed for 8920 Sunset Blvd. that was approved by the Council last year. Residents to Preserve the Sunset Strip, a committee formed by the developer to fight the union’s ballot measure, has raised $300,000 for that effort.

The remaining $191,680 was raised by only six of the 11 candidates in the race for three City Council seats.

The three incumbents raised the largest amounts, with Lindsey Horvath bringing in $53,629 followed by John D’Amico ($41,400) and Lauren Meister ($36,321).  The fourth-ranked recipient was challenger Duke Mason ($33,480), followed by fellow challengers Sepi Shyne  ($17,300) and Marquita Thomas ($9,550.)

Challengers Brendan Hood and Shawn Davis Mooney did not file documents indicating they had raised any money, nor did Tom Demille, who has run unsuccessfully four times before.  Eric Jon Schmidt and Jack Cline have both said they would accept no donations for their campaigns.

Meister stood out for having both the largest number of donors (165) and the most who identified as residents of West Hollywood (130).  Horvath had 157 donors, only 20 of whom were from West Hollywood.  D’Amico had 126 donors, only 34 of whom were from WeHo.

Duke Mason was the challenger with the largest number of donors (148), with 26 of them identifying as West Hollywood residents. Sepi Shyne had 60 donors, with three of them from West Hollywood.  And Marquita Thomas had 35 donors, with two of them from WeHo.

Seven of Thomas’ donors were members of the Illoulian family, donating a total of $3,500, or 37% of the Thomas campaign’s total receipts.  Jason Illouoian’s Faring is a developer of major real estate projects in West Hollywood.  D’Amico received a total of $3,000 in donations from six members of that Beverly Hills family and the maximum contribution of $500 from Parviz Illoulian,  another family member who lives in West Hollywood.

D’Amico was the major recipient of money from real estate developers and those associated with them as their lobbyists and lawyers.  Thirty-five percent ($14,600) of his donations came from those sources.  At least 23 of the donors to Lindsey Horvath were real estate developers or represented them in one way or another.  They were responsible for 28% ($10,950) of her donations.

Donations by Council members to one another were indicative of who is supporting who. Lauren Meister donated $100 to fellow Councilmember John D’Amico’s campaign.  D’Amico and Councilmember John Heilman each donated $500 to fellow Councilmember Lindsey Horvath’s campaign, while Mayor John Duran donated $250.

  1. The West Hollywood City Council was once a rising star in the firmament of progressive communities that put the needs of people first. It makes me sad that it has turned into a swamp. Meeting the needs of developers over the needs of the community has spelled the end to our once sterling reputation. Allowing massive developments along our east-west corridors of the city — with NO regard to their impact on traffic, quality of life, water or sewage is setting the stage for the city to topple from all the weight at the top. Our rules for when traffic studies must be done are so weak as to be meaningless. Same for the fact that the city council agendas are so packed as to make serious discussions impossible, which leads to off-loading the heavy work to staff who are only accountable to their bosses, not the residents.

  2. 35% of D’Amico’s donations from Real Estate Developers. That is a stunning statement. Mr. “I won’t run for a third term” has become “Mr. Real Estate Interest”.

  3. These numbers represent a healthy decline in the amounts that have been previously raised and spent by incumbents in recent WeHo elections and hopefully represent a trend. With less money to spend on mail, all the candidates need to rely upon shoe leather and volunteers to get the word out about their agendas. Ideally all of us will donate time to our favorite candidates or at least make some time to seek them out and ask them why they are running. If we want to keep City Council elections clean then we all need to do our part to be involved and informed citizens. We have a great City, taking time to learn the issues and vote will keep it that way.

  4. Lauren has more local donations than all the other candidates combined. A pretty incredible statistic.

    1. I continue to support Lauren for this reason and so many others. I encourage WeHo to get out and vote! We need real changes, but ones that make sense to support our current residents while making thoughtful changes/progress to our beloved city.

  5. Where the money has been spent is also very interesting.

    Duke Mason used his campaign account for meals at Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica and the Rooftop Grill in Beverly Hills.

    Looks like his campaign account is being used for personal expenses such as Time Warner Cable, Vesta AT&T and at Broken We Can Fix It.

    And why would he have spent around $1000 on Lyft rides. West Hollywood is walkable and has public transportation options.

  6. Out of town and developer money flooding our democracy. Business as usual for our city council elections.

      1. Dee. I have donated every year more than 10 times the amount i received over 8 years ago and 4 years ago from Ed Buck – to worthwhile organizations that serve our residents. I have done that every year. If you’d like to discuss further please give me a call at 310.498.5783.

  7. Hold your horses!…..

    Sepi: 60 donors and only 3 from Weho.

    Marquita: 35 donors and only 2 from Weho.
    (and 37% of all donations from the family of a local developer)

    WOW!…..That says it all folks.


    1. Whoa Manny! It is entirely reasonable that the early contributions would be from one’s professional colleagues and contacts in the candidates former place of residence, academic community and business. These would likely cover materials and expenditures as their campaign rolls out. In the specific case of Sepi Shyne, she was available at your Meet & Greet and evidenced a solid professional acumen as an attorney and a balanced perspective as an individual prepared to give herself to public service. I for one was impressed and indicated that if she were by chance not elected, she had the qualities to make a perceptive and needed planning commissioner. I did not have the opportunity to speak with Marquita Thomas.

      1. Not my Meet and Greet….But you prove my point, it’s disappointing and concerning to see that 95% of her total donations came from far away people and business’ who have no vested interest in the future of West Hollywood…..Candidates for elected office need to enter a race with a better expression of support from the local community.

        But yes, I agree with you that Sepi, and the other civic minded individuals, at this point may be best suited for commission appointments instead of elected office.

        1. Au contraire. It’s admirable that one can move to a new community and after 10 years or more still have the support of those significant in one’s past. Dig in and do the research. Does one walk their talk and have an evolved sense to offer their current community? Subtleties not always seen by some that talk with a heavy hand. Commission appointments should carry the same requisite qualities and abilities as a council members. Some consider it to be “show time” and fail to possess or learn a serious grasp of the subject matter for which they render judgement.

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