Yaroslavsky Amasses $700,000 in Bid for County Supervisor’s Job : Elections: The councilman says he wants limits on contributions. An opponent labels him a hypocrite.


Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, an outspoken advocate of campaign finance reform, has amassed more than $700,000 in his bid for county supervisor, much of it in donations of more than $1,000 from special interests.

Telephoning prominent lobbyists, developers and other potential contributors to support his candidacy, Yaroslavsky raised more than half the money--about $400,000--during the last three weeks of 1993. The rest of the funds are left over from his previous City Council campaigns.

Yaroslavsky, who kicked off his campaign last month with a pledge to push for limits on political contributions, acknowledged in an interview Wednesday that his fund-raising task was made much easier by the absence of restrictions on county elections. Candidates for City Council cannot accept more than $500 from a single donor, a law that does not apply to county elections.


Thus, Yaroslavsky was able to raise $400,000 in three weeks from 189 contributors, instead of the 800 donors he would have had to persuade under city laws.

“It certainly made it less time-consuming,” Yaroslavsky said. “I don’t think the county rules are the best. . . . But I have to play by county rules because everyone else is playing by those rules.”

In contrast, Yaroslavsky’s only opponent so far, retired Los Angeles firefighter Don Wallace, has raised about $10,000 in his bid for the 3rd District seat, which includes Hollywood, parts of western Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley. Incumbent Supervisor Ed Edelman is retiring next year after his fifth term in office, leaving the seat vacant for the first time in 20 years.

The deadline to enter the race is March 11. The primary is June 7.

Wallace, who received most of his contributions in increments of $100 or less, said Yaroslavsky was being hypocritical for promising reform while benefiting from the status quo.

“This race is going to be like David against Goliath,” Wallace said. “People are absolutely disgusted by the obscene amounts of money that career politicians raise to keep themselves in office. And there’s going to be a backlash against it.”

Yaroslavsky defended his actions, saying his record of more than 18 years on the council proves that he can take money without being influenced. He pointed out that he has been endorsed by Geoff Cowan, former chairman of the citizens ethics commission that drafted the city’s tough campaign finance laws.


And Yaroslavsky renewed his promise to seek campaign finance limits on county elections if he is elected, saying his first move would be to restrict donations by companies seeking or holding county contracts.

However, this time around, Yaroslavsky accepted donations from several county contractors, including BKK Corp., which runs a landfill in West Covina and contributed $5,000; Browning-Ferris Industries, which provides the county with chemical toilets and contributed $4,000, and Five Star Parking, which operates county parking lots and gave Yaroslavsky $1,500.

Yaroslavsky’s single largest donation--$25,000--came from communications mogul Jerry A. Perenchio. Other contributors include such prominent lobbyists as Morey/Seymour Associates, which represents the developer who wants to build the controversial Canyon Oaks Estates project in Topanga Canyon and donated $1,000, and Maureen Kindel, who also contributed $1,000 and represents a large bond underwriting company that has sought county contracts.

Yaroslavsky’s huge war chest is a key weapon in his continuing battle to ward off challenges from political or financial heavyweights, including entrepreneur Nikolas Patsaouras, who is weighing a bid for the seat, said Parke Skelton, one of Yaroslavsky’s political consultants.

“Patsaouras could put a million bucks into the campaign and not miss it,” Skelton said. “Zev also intends to run a full-fledged, aggressive campaign to avoid a runoff with any of the other challengers that are sure to file in a race like this, and that costs money.”

Patsaouras said that if he decides to run, he will raise the funds from supporters.