John Heilman Reports $99,000 in Donations for His City Council Re-Election

The latest campaign donation filings for the Nov. 3 City Council election show that Councilmember John Heilman’s re-election campaign has brought in $99,020.

Those donations, made between Jan. 1 and June 30, include a total of $620 from people who gave less than $100 each.  Such donors aren’t identified in the campaign filings. The remaining $98,400 in donations came from 184 people or businesses 33 of which are West Hollywood residents.

Forty one percent of the money donated to Heilman’s re-election campaign ($40,750) came from real estate interests, which include real estate developers and the lawyers and lobbyists and architects who represent them or work with them. The most prominent developers included Daniel and Simon Mani, who each made the maximum donation of $1,000 as did Daniel’s wife, Tsipi, and Simon’s wife, Rachel, for a total of $4,000.

west hollywood city council
John Heilman

The Mani Brothers own major pieces of real estate in West Hollywood, including the office towers at 9200 and 9201 Sunset Blvd., and their financial support for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has made them controversial figures in West Hollywood, which bills itself as a progressive city. The Manis have donated thus far a total of $249,900 to the re-election campaign of Donald Trump and the National Republican Congressional Committee. However, local politicians such as Councilmember Heilman and Mayor Lindsey Horvath, who has been outspoken in her denunciation of Trump, have not refused to accept their donations.

Heilman’s campaign also received donations of $1,000 from each of seven members of the family of Jason Illoulian, whose Faring is one of West Hollywood’s biggest real estate developers. Developer Ben Soroudi, who has been trying for nearly ten years to get the city to approve a mixed-use development at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd., and his family members donated a total of $5,000.

Charles Essig, who is involved in the 8850 Sunset project, donated $1,000 as did John Irwin. of Townscape Management, the developer of the projects at 8899 Beverly Blvd. and 8150 Sunset Blvd.

A total of $3,500 was donated from billboard owners, including Brad Berkley of Dallas, Tex., CEO of Big Outdoor ($1,000), Lawrence Legg of Hollywood, Fla., owner of E.T. Legg & Associations ($1,000), and Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media in Columbus, Oh., ($1,000). Athens Services , who the city has granted a contract to pick up trash, and its executives donated $2,500. Gary Minzer of Los Angeles, president of Hollywood Tow, donated $250. Each of three donors with ties to the Lord Jones and Chroma cannabis companies, donated $500. Rey Luna, controller at Wheels, the West Hollywood-headquartered dockless electric bike business, donated $1,000.

Mayor Lindsey Horvath donated $250 and former City Councilmember Abbe Land donated $500. Jeffrey Prang, a former WeHo City Councilmember who now is L.A. County Assessor, donated $250.

Thus far there are seven people who have declared themselves to be candidates in the Nov. 3 election for the City Council seats now held by Heilman and John Duran, who also is running for re-election. Candidates have until July 30 to file this latest campaign finance report. Reports covering donations during all of 2019 were filed in January.

The only candidates who raised money in 2019 were Sepi Shyne, who reported $4,950 in contributions, Noemi Torres, who reported contributions of $4,291, and John Duran, who raised $107,524,with 35% of that coming from real estate development interests.

Neither Duran nor Shyne nor challengers Larry Block and Marco Colantonio have yet filed their 2020 contribution reports. Torres recently filed hers, which showed she had raised 12,989, bringing her total thus far to $17,280. John Erickson has raised $60,856 this year (no contributions were made in 2019).

The 2020 campaign finance reports also show that Mayor Lindsey Horvath has raised $9,860. Horvath ended her successful 2019 re-election campaign with $20,000 in debt. After that March election she pulled in $9,510 in donations during the rest of 2019, with much of that coming from billboard companies. Her donations so far this year total $9,860, with $1,000 coming from Gary M. Clifford II of Glendora, an executive with Athens Services, and $3,850 coming from various real estate interests including Justin Barth, who is involved in the 8615 West Knoll Drive project.

The City Council decided in a four-to-one vote in February to raise the limit on campaign donations from $500 to $1,000. Councilmember Lauren Meister voted no.

Supporters of increasing the limit argued that it would reduce the likelihood of the formation of independent expenditure committees. There is no limit on what one can donate to an IEC, and there is no limit on what they can spend to promote a candidate so long as they do not coordinate their efforts with a candidate’s campaign. That is a regulation that is frequently violated, although such violations are difficult to prove.

Special interests such as real estate developers in West Hollywood frequently solicit donations of the maximum amount from family members and friends who do not live in or have any obvious interest in West Hollywood so as to override the $1,000 limit.


23 Comments
  1. Ironic isn’t it ? John Why not move on with dignity and give someone else a chance ? Haven’t you been here long enough ? It’s all about the money instead of your neighbors and neighborhood.

  2. “Developer Ben Soroudi, who has been trying for nearly ten years to get the city to approve a mixed-use development at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd., and his family members donated a total of $5,000.” This sounds more like an example of how donating to campaigns doesn’t always speed up the process to get a project approved.

    Instead of hinting that contributions influence decisions, we should be given dates of contributions, dates of project votes, and vote outcomes – then we can all see whether the facts support the allegations hinted here.

    While understanding where the money is coming from is an important part of doing research on a candidate, it’s just piece of the bigger picture. I’d much rather know which of my neighbors are financially supporting each of the candidates. Not only do I think that’d be a much more interesting article to read but it would open the door for neighbors to have meaningful conversations about who they are supporting and why.

    1. Well maybe Mr. Soroudi, after 10 years, has decided to kick up the contributions to get that project finally approved. It would be nice to know who your neighbors contributed to, since they actually live here. It’s more interesting to know who those Beverly Hills real estate tycoons contribute to, because we all know West Hollywood is “the most progressive city money can buy”!

      And if you need evidence that money can buy you love in West Hollywood, look at the 8899 Beverly condo project. The Townscape guys poured the money into city council election campaigns — including Heilman and Duran — and got permission to build a project twice as big as the land was zoned for. A project with an $85 million condo on the top floor.

      1. At least Townscape chose a capable architect for their 8899 Beverly Project. Soroudi did not. He decided to work with the purloined plans from Stephen Kanner who passed away and then made exponential changes, gobbling up residential propertie until it became a Lime Green Cruise Ship docked at West Knoll.

      2. I wouldn’t know from the article whether he decided to kick up the contributions or not because the article makes the implication without doing the research and providing the complete picture. I’m asking for a more complete picture with dates of contributions, dates of project votes and those outcomes. Then people can form their own conclusions based on the facts.

        1. For a clearer picture, perhaps the FBI should come in and investigate if John Duran is getting a rent decrease from the Mani Brothers.
          That would be a major conflict for a elected official.

          Since Duran would be influenced on voting yes for anything the Mani Brothers proposed. Plus there are Duran’s tax liens. Which would indicate that he is unable to handle his own finances, let alone WEHOs, and would always be very dependent on political donations. The pay for play problem. As for Townscape, they bought John Heilman, John Duran and Lindsey Horvath.

  3. The 8150 Sunset Blvd project developers have been donating $$ for over five years. The over sized project has been objected to by hundreds of nearby residents. The latest GIFT to the developers is the elimination of a safety right turn lane (Sunset Blvd to Crescent Heights Blvd GIVING additional city property to the developers (The Traffic Dept said this was dangerous) But they are getting it. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    1. To be correct, this was a decision taken by LA City Council on this project. West Hollywood was not part of the decision making. Although the city did fils a lawsuit against the project, the outcome was a settlement including some accommodations to the sewer system on Havenhurst and the installation of bollards or a type of barrier to eliminate traffic from the 8150 site to travel south on Havenhurst.

  4. We desperately need to pass new City Council rules which prohibit any/all campaign donations from “real estate interests.” I have f–king had it with *West Hollywood being sold out to developers!!* They are making our city *unlivable* for us residents, while they kick back in Beverly Hills or Malibu or wherever else raking in the profits from our misery. Our Council members are a joke, they’re puppet$ for these developers. Just take a look at that insanely gargantuan Dubai luxury hotel they’re allowing to be overdeveloped on Sunset Blvd. between San Vicente and Larrabee. No resident thinks it’s a good idea. The only local$ who do… are member$ of our City Council. Gee, there’$ a $hock.

  5. It seems like the ability to raise money to pay off debt gives the incumbents a huge advantage to skirt the law or at least avoid taking contributions from unpopular developers prior to the election. We had set time limits for fundraising to take the money out of decision making. But $20,000 is a lot of debt which means the fundraising never stops. How can we reform the campaign finances when our “progressive” incumbents are always finding ways to game the system.

  6. I know I’m being naive but maybe if the public financed elections council members wouldn’t be beholden to special interests like developers and billboard companies. To get a speed bump on Elevado it took two years of haranguing, a stop sign on Doheny and Elevado unthinkable but a massive Illoulian project on Robertson and Santa Monica seems a priority. Don’t think it’s the residence clamoring for more, denser developements but clearly the special interests have the ear of Heilman and Duran and the rest just acquiesce.

  7. Heilman and Duran have spent a lifetime making Weho what it is today. Weho wouldn’t be what it is today without the two of them. I thank them. They have both been integral to the success of the city. I hope they both win again.

    And this Lauren MEISTER, you speak of. Name one thing she has actually accomplished? Her parking plan she pushed when first elected? It contradicted every principle of urban planning and staff had to find multiple ways to nicely tell her that everything she said made no sense. It’s a constant dance for staff to help her save face and a waste of resources when we have real priceless.

    The commissioners she appointed? she basically paid back the folks that helped get win- she didn’t pick the best people for the job.

    Her requests of staff to “study” various items that make no sense? Why don’t we do an anonymous survey if city hall employees and see what they really think of MEISTER. I can assure they wish she had some logic and experience.

    What about her vacancy tax? Another dumb idea. Commercial real estate is getting crushed and she wants to penalize tenants and property owners?

    Let’s all pray Duran and Heilman win. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love it here in Weho.

    And to Larry- seriously running again? One day you love Heilman and Duran and the next day you don’t when they don’t appoint you to a commission?

    Support Lauren MEISTER next time, Larry. She pays for her votes with city positions. I’m sure you can grab one from her…Duran and Heilman would never do that to our city.

    1. The truth is that they lost site of the WeHo we want and need. This city doesn’t represent much of the LGBTQ community that it once was. Restaurants and Bars can’t afford the leases so they continue to close. My neighborhood has 3 closed restaurants but 3 sex shops (ok, that’s on point) within 2 block walk.

      At least Lauren bothers to read through the materials that are provided and thoughtfully considers them. Duran is looking to score points with whatever boys he can. He has abused his position and traded power for sex. It’s time fora change!

  8. Am I wrong, or is this a banner year for campaign donations?

    Where do these guys spend their money, anyway? I never see campaign events listed. Donor-only events?
    So, huh?

  9. John Heilman should be respected for taking the lead in realizing the original values intended for West Hollywood. He has remained invested in these concepts but unfortunately had his head turned into an area where he had little expertise.

    The Monopoly Board which arrived at John Heilman’s
    invitation has been largely driven by outside development interests not in tune with the goals of the city. Yes, development is important in any location but handing the $$$$ football off to those simply interested in their personal economic opportunities is incoherent and incompatible with the city culturally, economically, and aesthetically.

    The city, largely led by John Heilman had the upper hand but gave it away by not having a well thought out and comprehensive development plan executed by those that know how that should evolve. A simple rendering of changes envisioned on the main boulevards of Sunset, Santa Monica, Fairfax and San Vicente would have been a starting point and could have been updated. Heck, this could have been supported by ideas of students of architecture at local colleges and universities. A missed opportunity. Instead we have acid green cruise ship facsimile proposed on SMB by Soroudi, the pastiche proposed at 8850 Sunset with disparate elevations all appropriated from other architects cobbled together for some monumental grotesquerie looming over the neighborhood.

    Money can buy many things but it does not necessarily buy value.

  10. It was clear to me that when the city council voted to increase the limit to $1000 in the middle of February and during the campaign season this was corruption. The results show that few ‘renters’ are able to afford the $1000 but all the special interests double down to influence and buy off candidates. I think it’s clear by the finance reports that we cannot afford 4 more years of Duran or Heilman any more then we can afford 4 more years of Trump. It’s pay for play in a Weho, and there’s nothing progressive about it.

    1. Thank Larry. I remember John Heilman, speaking in support of doubling the individual contribution to $1,000,00, saying that West Hollywood is an affluent community and many residents could easily contribute the new maximum.
      But what he failed to mention is that he is likely to be the beneficiary of “independent expenditure” committees, like the one run by the Chamber of Commerce, that have no limits on contributions. When you have the ability to overwhelm challengers by flooding the mail boxes you can hardly claim the West Hollywood is a beacon of progressive democracy.

  11. Wake up West Hollywood!!! This is not (with the exception of Lauren Meister) a city council for residents and quality of life! It’s time to start counting how much of West Hollywood is influenced by non-residents. Campaign contributions? Board and Commission members? What else? Are we finally going to vote in numbers sufficient to represent the actual needs and desires of people who live here and not just a 10% that incumbents view as a mandate to do as they damned well please at the beckoning of their developer overlords? Are we tired of being a playground? Vote and get engaged.

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