Most of WeHo’s Election 2019 Spending Is About the Arts Club on the Sunset Strip

The latest round of campaign finance reports, filed Feb. 21, shows that a total of $1.05 million has been raised so far by candidates for three seats on the West Hollywood City Council, by a political action committee supporting two of incumbents and by supporters and opponents of the two measures on the March 5 ballot.

As noted before, most of the fundraising involves Measure B, a proposal on the ballot to reaffirm the West Hollywood City Council’s decision last year to approve construction of the Arts Club on Sunset Boulevard at Hilldale. Unite Here Local 11, the restaurant and hotel workers union, which opposes the project, was successful in gathering signatures to put it on the ballot in the hope that voters would reject the Council’s decision.  No money is being spent to promote or oppose Measure Y, which would impose a 7.5% tax on recreational cannabis sales.

“Citizens for a Better West Hollywood,” the political action committee established by Unite Here, raised $255,950 in an unsuccessful effort to put on the ballot a measure that would allow voters to rescind the City Council’s approval of the Robertson Lane project. But it was successful in putting Measure B on the ballot and appears to be using some of the funds from its PAC to pay for campaign mailers and door-to-door efforts to convince residents to oppose the Arts Club project. Some of those campaigning against it also have asked voters not to support incumbent John D’Amico and instead vote for challenger Sepi Shyne.  D’Amico and fellow incumbent candidates Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath and Mayor John Duran supported the project. Councilmember John Heilman voted against it.

Even more money has been raised by “Yes on Measure B, Residents to Preserve the Sunset Strip.”  That PAC was formed by VE Equities, a New York City real estate developer that is partnering with  U.K.-based London & Regional Properties to build the Arts Club building. VE Equities has contributed $650,000 to the campaign for the Arts Club as of Feb. 21.  

That means $404,956 has been raised to support seven of the 11 candidates running for three City Council seats.  Challengers Eric Jon Schmidt, Tom Demille, Jack Cline have declared they will not accept contributions, and challenger Shawn Davis Mooney has not filed any reports indicating that he has received financial support for his campaign.  Of that amount, $306,956 has been raised in the form of individual donations to specific candidates. Another $98,000 has been raised by a political action committee largely funded by real estate interests and billboard companies that is campaigning for the re-election of D’Amico and Horvath.

Which Candidates Have Raised the Most Money?

As of Feb. 21, Incumbent Lindsey Horvath’s campaign ranks No. 1, with $101,930 in donations. No. 2 is incumbent John D’Amico, with $77,200. Those figures don’t include the $98,000 raised by the PAC formed to support them. Political action committees are not allowed to coordinate their campaigns with those of the candidates they support.

James Duke Mason, who is making his second run for a City Council seat, has raised $46,480.  Incumbent Lauren Meister ranks fourth with $44,896 in donations. Challenger Sepi Shyne ranks No. 5 with $21,650 in donations, followed by challenger Marquita Thomas with $12,000 in donations.  Challenger Brendan Hood has raised $2,800.

Challengers Jack Cline, Tom Demille, Mark Davis Mooney and Eric Jon Schmidt have not reported any donations.

How Much Has Been Donated by Real Estate Developers or Those Seeking Council Votes or Support?

As usual, the real estate industry is the largest single source of business or organization donations to City Council candidates.

As of Feb. 21, $103,550 has been donated by owners and operators of real estate companies and their lawyers and lobbyists and other associates and family members, which includes $45,500 from real estate interests contributing to the PAC supporting D’Amico and Horvath.   

The cannabis industry has been a major donor in this election.  Keff Times, a Las Vegas company associated with the Essence cannabis dispensary, donated $30,000 to the PAC supporting D’Amico and Horvath.  Various cannabis companies – including two of those who are lobbying for recreational cannabis licenses after having failed to qualify for them –have donated $2,600 to D’Amico’s campaign.  One of those donors is MedMen, which donated $500 to D’Amico and the same amount to fellow incumbents Horvath and Meister.

Billboard companies such as E.T. Legg, Ace Outdoor and Orange Barrel Media donated a total of $20,000 to the D’Amico/Horvath PAC.

What About City Vendors?

To date city vendors haven’t donated much. Athens Services, the city’s trash pickup vendor, has donated $500 to each of the three incumbents. Hollywood Tow, the company that has a contract to tow illegally parked cars from city streets, donated $250 to D’Amico.  And Symblaze, a marketing firm that has worked on several projects for the city, donated $150 to each of the three incumbents.

Who Are the Biggest Recipients of Real Estate Industry Donations?

The biggest recipient is John D’Amico, who has received $34,800 in donations from real estate developers and their associates, which constitutes 45% of direct donations to his campaign up until Feb. 21. Lindsey Horvath ranks second, with direct contributions of $12,500 from real estate interests, or 12% of her total.  Those figures are much larger when one adds in the $45,500 in real estate donations to the PAC supporting D’Amico and Horvath.

None of the contributions indicated here come from political action committees

Ranking No. 3 is Marquita Thomas, who has received $3,500 in real estate related donations, which constitutes 29% of her donations.  Her largest donors are members of the Illoulian family, donors of $3,000 of that amount. Jason Illoulian is the owner of Faring, developer of the Robertson Lane hotel and retail project among others in West Hollywood.

Lauren Meister has received $2,950 (7% of her total) from real estate interests, who include local real estate agents. Duke Mason has received $2,900 in donations from real estate interests, which constitutes 6% of his total donations, and Sepi Shyne has received $1,400 (6% of her total).

These donations include money from real estate developers and lobbyists and lawyers working for them as well as real estate or property managers and real estate agents. Also included are donations from family members of those in the real estate business.

Which Candidates Attract the Most Local Donors?

First, it must be noted that only donors of $100 or more are identified by name and location. Donations of less than $100 are grouped into a single number in a campaign expense report. When it comes to local donations of $100 or more, Lauren Meister leads her competitors in this metric, with 147 of her 195 donors (75%) being residents of West Hollywood.  John D’Amico comes in second with 62 (28%) of his 225 donors being West Hollywood residents.

Other candidates with local donors are Duke Mason, with 32 local donors (17%) and Lindsey Horvath, with 43 local donors (13%).

Six of Marquita Thomas’s donors (13%) are West Hollywood residents, with Sepi Shyne having seven local donors (making up 8% of her donors). Brendan Hood’s four local donors make up 33% of his total. Shyne has noted that she has hosted several events where those attending included West Hollywood residents who made donations of less than $100 each.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is an updated version of an earlier one that was discovered to have errors because campaign data downloaded from the City of West Hollywood’s website was not complete. WEHOville thanks Sheila Lightfoot for helping track the cause of the error and for taking on the tedious task of entering data not in the online database into a separate database and providing it to WEHOville. We have reached out to the City Clerk about the online campaign finance database issues.


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Patrick Jarvis
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Patrick Jarvis

Please tell me how to send a check to the New Duke, Duke Mason. I want to see Acin’ Mason on the WeHo City Council. He is going to win this time.

Bill Skywatcher
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Bill Skywatcher

All you need to know about big expenditures in elections is that the more money being spent, the more they want to bamboozle the public. Sounds like many have already drunk the Kool-Aid.

WeHoMikey
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WeHoMikey

“Spot Zoning” run amuck.

Ron Harris
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Ron Harris

John Duran is a sad, pathetic individual, a remnant of the trashy, “Vasoline Alley” days that WeHo should be trying to transcend. But sadly he’s not up for defeat this year. The three incumbents who ARE up this year all seem to be developers’ rubber stamps, puppets of corporate greed. We have the worst traffic problems I’ve seen in 40+ years of living here. Adding housing only the wealthiest can afford is obscene. Ceding evening parking spaces to valet services, while not citing drivers who stop in traffic lanes or red zones (such as the alley entrance behind Koontz), or… Read more »

Michael G.
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Michael G.

I find it very hypocritical and amusing that so many WEHO Democrat politicians are so anti-union. Like the perpetual tree huggers: Lindsay Horvath and John D’Amico. They are voting against the union who is opposed to Paltrow’s “Arts Club.” The amount of money spent by the “Yes on B” group is mind-boggling. I’ve received enough paper adverts promoting Horvath, D’Amico, and Mason to line two dozen cat litter boxes or bird cages. Today there were a dozen ads for Horvath, D’Amico, and Mason plus the Art’s Club telling us that we can finally get rid of the Hustler Building. I’d… Read more »

Shawn m Thompson
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Shawn m Thompson

Past thee point that everything union is bad and the nice mega full funded spin of the “Arts Club” members only. Is the core idea is are zoning laws worth anything anymore if 5 council members can override them? Where is the check in balance in this system? So measure B in my opinion asks this question? And I say no they shouldn’t have the power to ignore zoning laws on high and density. To say there is no connection to the developers donations to council members decisions is denial.

Charles
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Charles

I agree with Larry. This union doesn’t seem to have a problem with all the other hotels in West Hollywood. But now suddenly during an election they decide to throw in money on a project that’s not a hotel (but just 15 roooms??) Plus they’re targeting one of the incumbents, John D’Amico, and endorsing one of the challengers, Sepi Shyne, by spreading lies and pushing fake news about how he’s not for affordable housing or supporting rent control, which is absolutely false. He’s a big proponent of creating affordable housing and protecting renters’ rights. I mean he supported Prop 10!… Read more »

Shawn m Thompson
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Shawn m Thompson

Actually you can bundle your $500 as a developer has. So he donates $500 and everyone else in his family does a $500. And pow $3500 from the major developer of the Robertson lane project and other mega forced density projects making their way into weho with yes votes from council

Bill Skywatcher
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Bill Skywatcher

Did you see how much money D’Amico pulled in from Real Estate (development) interests? Also, I don’t know if he’s still on the commission, but from what I’ve read and heard, John Altshul (D’Amico’s representative on the Planning Commission) would love to tear down ALL of West Hollywood with the singular exception (maybe) of his own building.

How D’Amico can call himself “pro renter” is like calling Trump a liberal.

Shawn m Thompson
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Shawn m Thompson

The West Hollywood Democracy is broken. Campaign fiance reform is the only thing that can save it

JF
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JF

YES on Measure B!

Larry Block
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Larry Block

While people complain about donations from developers to council members with the inference that money is corrupt and buys votes .. why is nobody talking about the same thing with a union donating more than 100,000$ to influence the election. All Its not clear that any money donated by developers to council members effects their votes, but it is clear that candidates with the support of the union have pledged their vote. And in the case of John D’Amico he was not a developer favorite when he endorsed and supported Lauren Meister for her council seat and he continues to… Read more »

NO MORE DEVELOPENT
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NO MORE DEVELOPENT

Confirms that I won’t be voting for John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath. They are owned by the developers and their lobbyists. Just part of the Heilman and Duran “pay for play” cabal. And of course a NO vote for Paltrow’s club!

Tom Wright
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Tom Wright

Art of the Hollywood Steel Superstar family Hollywood Connections all for what to have an elitist Art Club on Sunset Boulevard WHY, Outside money using a Hollywood family to project Art Club for only 7,000 people and they’re going to give us a million dollars in 10 years really you think that’s enough all this goodness that they’re trying to project is really just a Art of the Steal Goop is best known these days for its questionable, controversial products. Word of the Netflix show followed the news that Goop had to settle a $125,000 lawsuitover false advertisements for a… Read more »

Give Me A Break
Guest
Give Me A Break

Oh please, get a grip. Thanks for the info on Goop which has nothing to do with the Arts Club besides it’s investor. Big deal? Who cares.

The current Hustler store is a good use of space? That store is nearly empty every time I drive by. A mixed use club will at least get used.

I’m not an outsider, I’ve lived in West Hollywood for 15 years and welcome the club.

This union trying to bully and extort our city is the real problem.

Steve Martin
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Steve Martin

Unfortunately the Arts Club is not a mixed use building which is too bad. There are ZERO residential units even though 40% of the site was zoned residential. If the project was truly a mixed use we would have received six or seven affordable units. The luxury suites for the Arts Club members are paying ZERO hotel tax which is ripping the City off to the tune of $150,000 to $200,000 a year in lost revenue. That pretty much offsets the couple million in one time money the Arts Club is giving to the City for arts programing. This is… Read more »