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Nobody Gives to Politicians Like Westside Donors

March 17, 1985|ALAN CITRON and DAVID FERRELL | Times Staff Writers

Beverly Hills investment adviser Mark Ross Weinberg says he'd like to do more for his friend, Mayor Tom Bradley. But after giving $84,000 to Bradley's mayoral campaign over the past two years, Weinberg already has contributed nearly as much as the entire San Fernando Valley.

"As a human being, I like Tom very much," the 30-year-old Weinberg said. "I would have given him more . . . but it's been a rough year for business."

Weinberg, Bradley's single biggest contributor, represents an extreme example of Westside largess. When it comes to giving money to the two main candidates in the Los Angeles mayor's race, however, nobody does it bigger or better than Westside contributors.

Dwarfed Valley Gifts

A Times computer study of campaign statements shows that Westside residents and organizations contributed nearly half of the $2.5 million given to Bradley and his chief opponent, Los Angeles City Councilman John Ferraro, between Bradley's unsuccessful 1982 gubernatorial campaign and the end of 1984. Valley contributors, by comparison, gave about 7% of the total money received by the two candidates.

Besides Weinberg, the major Westside contributors include Friends of Tom Bradley ($75,175), Taxpayers for Responsible Government ($20,600 between Bradley and Ferraro), contractor-developer Si Un Park ($20,000 to Bradley), the Memel, Jacobs, Pierno, Gersh & Ellsworth law firm ($13,700 between Bradley and Ferraro), Knapp Communications ($13,500 between Bradley and Ferraro) and Communicom Corp. ($9,500 to Ferraro).

Celebrity contributors include recording executive Herb Alpert ($3,250 to Bradley), Gene Autry ($250 to Ferraro), motion picture director Norman Jewison ($300 to Bradley), singer Lionel Richie ($500 to Bradley), television executive Aaron Spelling ($8,500 to Bradley) and Lakers basketball player Jamaal Wilkes ($950 to Bradley).

The list also includes firms involved in major development deals with the city. One is Occidental Petroleum Corp. ($13,500 between Bradley and Ferraro), which recently won a long-running battle to drill for oil in Pacific Palisades. Another is the A.F. Gilmore Corp. ($9,000 between Bradley and Ferraro), a partner with CBS in a project that would transform the Farmers Market area into the city's largest complex of studios, offices and theaters.

People involved with city campaigns said they were not surprised by the proportion of Westside money. Bruce Corwin, treasurer for Friends of Tom Bradley, a political action committee based on the Westside and financed chiefly with Westside money, said the Westside traditionally represents affluence and activism.

'People Get Involved'

"It's an activist community," Corwin said. "I think you can make that kind of a generalization. People like to get involved and be a part of the process."

"Everybody I know, whatever they're running for, will always manage to make a visit to the Westside," added Weinberg, a Republican. "Westside businessmen . . . have a lot of money to donate to candidates."

Westside residents contributed $1,118,627 to Bradley and Ferraro, the Times survey showed. Eighty percent of the money came from people living within the city of Los Angeles, according to the survey, and 20% came from other areas such as Beverly Hills, Marina del Rey and Culver City. Bradley received nearly 70% of the contributions. The survey, however, did not cover contributions made since Ferraro entered the mayor's race in January.

Of the 1,573 contributors surveyed, 559 live or work on the Westside.

The typical Westside contributor is a middle-aged white property owner making more than 80,000 a year, the survey showed. Forty-seven percent of the Westside contributors were Democrats and 38% were Republicans; 43% were Jewish and 10% belonged to unions. Almost 40% said they made more than $200,000 a year.

Forty-three percent of the Westside contributors said that they had some business connection with the city, and 7% of the Westside survey respondents said they expected to receive some direct benefit by giving.

The big Westside contributors who agreed to speak to The Times generally maintained that they gave because they believed in the candidates and/or feel friendly toward them.

Beverly Hills commodities adviser Weinberg said he gave because he appreciated the fact that Bradley introduced him to a lot of people who became "clients and friends." Sherwin L. Memel, a partner in the Century City law firm that gave $2,500 to Ferraro and $11,200 to Bradley, said the mayor has done an "incredible" job of running the city, but added, "To my memory we've never gone to Tom Bradley in all the time we've contributed to him."

But many givers and elected officials acknowledge that big contributions help ensure access to political leaders, and some maintained that such access may play an important role in shaping the growth of the city.

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