Funding for a mysterious and controversial election mailing comparing the long tenure of Mayor John Heilman to those of world dictators has been traced back to Athens Services, the sanitation contractor for the City of West Hollywood, and a political action committee with an address of a residence where sex offender has also registered.
The widely talked about mailing arrived in the days immediately preceding the election and compared Mayor John Heilman to world dictators such as Augusto Pinochet and Kim Jong-Il. (UPDATE: Another mailing attacked Lindsey Horvath, showing her wearing a Bush t-shirt, while a third mailing was supportive of John D’Amico.)
Weho Daily reader Andrew Putschoegl said of the mailing, “I’m all for change here in WeHo, but this kind of smear campaign is something I’d expect from Karl Rove. Disgusting.”
Our research into the matter began after Weho Daily reader Chris Bray contacted us with some initial information and a copy of the finance disclosure, which was filed with the City on Tuesday afternoon as voting was underway. “The time stamp on the disclosure form shows that someone meant to disguise the source of the ad until after the election,” said Bray.
“The moment I saw that mailer, I knew something about it stunk,” he continued. “And when I looked at the city clerk’s website and saw that the PAC wasn’t on the list of organizations that had filed campaign finance disclosures, it was completely clear that someone was playing games.”
Campaign finance filings attributed the mailings to a PAC named Coalition of Latinos for Political Advocacy. Funding of $5,000 was listed as coming from an entity called “Vincent Property” with an address of an Athens Services facility in Irwindale. The reported cost of the three mailings was about $6,500.
The only business license on file for the Vincent Property address with the City of Irwindale is under the name of Athens Services, and the company also lists the address on its website as a facility. The California Secretary of State shows that Chris Carlos, the Director of Governmental Relations for Athens, has contributed to the Coalition.
The actual mailings listed a return address of CLPA-PAC on Washington Street in Whittier, which appears to be a mailbox rental business. Campaign finance filings list an address for CLPA in Burbank that is apparently a business that provides administrative services for political campaigns.
Federal information for the ID number on the Heilman mailing of 27-1944393 returns to a PAC of the same name, but with an address of a residence in Whittier. On this filing, Kenia Davalos is listed on the a contact for CLPA. Property records for the address show it to be a single family residence owned by a man named Rodney Mojarro, who the CEO for a company named PALS in Whittier. Davalos is listed as the CFO of the company on its website. Filings with the California Secretary of State show that Mojarro and PALS have had dealings with the PAC.
Records show that the residence last changed hands in the year 2000. As we researched the address to try to find more information about who is behind these mailings, we were shocked to find a convicted sex offender registered there. The offender apparently lived at the property at some point after serving prison time for two felony charges related to a gang rape. The Megan’s Law website does not give dates for his residency at that location or information on if the offender still resides at the property. No additional records were found under the name in searches of the California and National Sex Offender Registries.
So far, we have been unable to confirm if a party other than Athens orchestrated mailing. We reached Kenia Davalos at her place of business on Wednesday and she promptly stated “no comment” and hung up when told we were calling about the CLPA. Further attempts to speak with either Davalos or Mojarro at the business were unsuccessful and our calls were not returned after leaving messages.
Davalos seems to have updated her website after our phone calls to list that she had resigned from CLPA-PAC in February. Google’s cached version of the page at the time of this writing, which is used in their search results, did not show this information.
Calls to the Director of Governmental Relations for Athens were returned by a consultant named Mike Lewis, who acknowledged a contribution to the PAC, saying it was made in support of candidate John D’Amico. Lewis suggested that the company was approached for the contribution by another party, but so far, his checks with individuals in the company have not yielded information on who that party might be.
Reached for comment about the Heilman mailing, D’Amico disavowed himself of any knowledge of the mailing and source, saying “I had no knowledge of this piece of mail before it arrived in my mailbox.”
“I don’t support the references to dictators; it’s never appropriate to mix metaphors like that,” continued D’Amico. “I didn’t find it particularly effective, no one really thinks the Mayor is a dictator.”
Council member John Duran, a supporter of D’Amico, also denied any knowledge of the origins of the mailings. Both Duran and a person by the name of Kenia Davalos-Romero were listed as endorsements by a school board candidate in 2003, but Duran told Weho Daily that he didn’t recall knowing anyone by that name. He also noted that he is Latino but said that he had never heard of the Coalition of Latinos for Political Advocacy.
Bray isn’t sure who is behind the mailings and suspects that they may even have a disguised purpose. And he wants answers, as do many people who have contacted Weho Daily and come to our website searching for the identification number for the PAC and other terms associated with it.
“It’s so heavy handed and laughable that it looks to me like a voter suppression piece that was designed to turn people off and keep them from voting,” said Bray. “I can’t prove it, but that’s sure what it looks like to me. And vote suppression serves the incumbents.”