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Hospital investor donated $30,000

Money funded direct mailers for winner of City Council race

Posted: August 1, 2008 8:47 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

The investment company behind Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital's controversial expansion plans spent $30,000 to help elect Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurie Ender - a vocal proponent of the hospital's plans - new financial disclosure records show.

G&L Realty Corp. made a single $30,000 contribution to the Citizens for Integrity in Government committee, which then spent $29,000 on direct mailers supporting Ender just before she was elected in April to serve her first term on the council, replacing TimBen Boydston.

"She supports medical care in the valley, and we support that, too," said G&L employee Richard Gottlieb, who works in property acquisition and was listed as the contributor. "There are opponents that are against the hospital, and we support the candidates that are for the hospital."

Ender is on vacation and could not be reached for comment Friday.

Although the contribution was listed as coming directly from Gottlieb, it actually came from the company, Gottlieb said.

The single $30,000 contribution was more than the Friends of Laurie Ender committee raised all year.

Ender's committee raised about $25,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30.

Businesses and individuals can give a maximum of $360 to a committee that is directly controlled by a candidate, but there is no limit for donations to independent committees like Citizens for Integrity in

Government, said Santa Clarita City Clerk Sharon Dawson.

Even those living outside the Santa Clarita Valley can form a committee to support or oppose a candidate in a Santa Clarita City Council election and receive thousands in contributions from companies and individuals.

A loophole in the law also allows committees labeled as county committees - like Citizens for Integrity in Government - to wait until July 31 to reveal who funded the committee and how much they donated in the months leading up to the election.

The July deadline falls more than three months after voters mark their ballots to select their next City Council members. The committee filed its forms with the city and county in mid-July.

Less than three weeks before this year's April 8 election, the independent committee, whose treasurer is listed as Armando Azarloza, paid a printing company in Chatsworth for at least three separate direct mailers supporting Ender. The $29,500 payment for the mailers was the only expenditure listed on the financial forms for the Citizens for Integrity in Government committee.

One of the mailers sent to Santa Clarita residents encouraged voters to choose Ender because, "Like you, Laurie Ender supports the expansion of Henry Mayo Hospital." A second mailer praises Ender for her "blueprint for road and transportation improvement" and another featured a letter from Lena Smyth saying Ender "will continue to fight for our children in our community."

Because the committee is not controlled by the candidate, each mailer gave the disclosure that it was "not paid or authorized by any candidate."

G&L Realty was the sole contributor listed on the committee's disclosure forms dated Jan. 1 through June 30, 2007.

G&L is based in Beverly Hills and owns the medical office buildings on Newhall Memorial's campus. The private developer is partnering with the hospital to add three medical office buildings and a 120-bed inpatient building to the campus.

The expansion hit a snag with residents and activists who say the plan only guaranteed medical office buildings, while the construction of the inpatient tower was contingent on too many variables.

Hospital officials are revising the development agreement to provide what they say are stronger commitments.

Campaign finance reports for the Friends of Laurie Ender Committee also show that - of the $9,000 she raised during the three weeks leading up to the election - about $2,200 came from contributors who identified themselves as physicians.

Also during that time period, individual hospital officials including CEO and President Roger Seaver donated about $900.

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