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Complaint Filed in W. Hollywood Race


West Hollywood City Councilman John Heilman has filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission against newly elected City Councilman Sal Guarriello and his campaign manager, accusing them of violating state campaign laws.

In a complaint filed last month, Heilman accused Dennis Orfirer, who ran Guarriello's campaign, of using the city's employees union to run a separate campaign to unseat Heilman. Guarriello had one vote more than Heilman in last month's contest, but both were elected to office along with Babette Lang.

"All the time while Sal was claiming to run a squeaky clean campaign against me, his campaign manager was doing hit pieces against my campaign through the union," Heilman said.

Guarriello said the new charges make it difficult to put the election behind and unify the city.

"As far as I'm concerned, we did nothing wrong," he said. "At the installation I asked that we put aside the bitterness, that we bury the hatchet and try to unify. I don't know what his problem is."

Orfirer, a city employee, serves as political action vice president of the city's Local 3339 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which endorsed Guarriello, Lang and Stephen Martin in last month's election.

Orfirer said the charges were groundless. "It's just a case of sour grapes," Orfirer said. "It is pretty remarkable that Sal received more votes than a six-year incumbent, and it's obvious that John Heilman is not happy about that."

Orfirer said the complaint was highly technical and that it had been his intent to follow the election laws carefully.

But Barbara Glover, Heilman's campaign manager, disagreed.

"He was operating one campaign wearing one hat and then put on his union hat to operate another campaign," she said. "That is a cut-and-dry violation."

As vice president, the complaint stated, Orfirer sought funding for and executed an independent expenditure campaign paid for entirely with union funds.

Much of the union's campaign focused on mailings to voters urging the defeat of Heilman, whose positions were considered anti-labor by union leaders.

In response to the mailings, 54 city employees, over half the union membership, signed a petition accusing their leadership of acting without their approval or knowledge.

Jeanette Torvill, a spokeswoman for the Fair Political Practices Commission, said the complaint was received on May 3. She would not comment on the merits of the case, but did say that violators could be subject to a $2,000 fine and the possibility of civil penalties.

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