Zareh Sinanyan's election war chest grows

Zareh Sinanyan — the City Council candidate at the center of this election season's biggest controversy so far — has also amassed the largest campaign war chest, with $70,065 on hand, according to the most recent financial disclosure filings.

“The money is just flowing in,” Sinanyan said. “People are overwhelmingly supporting me.”

Contributions for the April 2 election continued despite a request by some council members earlier this month to remove Sinanyan from his city commission seat because of vulgar and threatening comments that were posted under his name on YouTube and other websites.

The candidate received 28 contributions totaling $9,400 after the public brouhaha, according to financial disclosures filed with the City Clerk's Office March 21.

Sinanyan kept his seat on the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee because some City Council members said there wasn't enough evidence to prove he wrote the comments.

Sinanyan has not denied posting the comments, many of which are directed at Armenia's geopolitical enemies, saying only that they do not reflect his values.

The next most successful fundraiser in the council race is incumbent Ara Najarian, who has $64,375 — much more than the $45,013 he collected through the second filing period in 2009, the last time he ran for re-election.

The large hauls indicate that despite the city's campaign reform ordinance in 2008, which limited individual contributions to $1,000, election spending remains strong.

But large campaign war chests do not necessarily guarantee electoral success. Councilman Rafi Manoukian lost re-election in 2007 even after raising $171,080 as of the second filing period that year.

Najarian said if he is elected again, he will push for a fundraising cap of $40,000.

“It's out of hand,” he said. “It's not necessary.”

Councilwoman Laura Friedman rounded out the top three with $46,312. Herbert Molano has $32,700, although $30,000 of that came in the form of a self-made loan. Sinanyan and Najarian also lent themselves $750 and $2,500, respectively.

The remaining eight candidates for three seats on the dais raised a total of less than $25,000.

Aram Kazazian, for instance, is far behind what he took in during the same filing period for his candidacy in 2009, when he raised $60,231. Kazazian, an architect, has raised just $5,499 so far this year.

But some candidates have also benefited from the generosity of political action committees. The National Assn. of Realtors Fund spent $51,670 on behalf of Rick Barnes, a Realtor, who had $9,981 in his campaign chest, $3,100 of which was a loan to his own campaign.

The National Assn. of Realtors paid for telephone calls, mailers, voter lists and consulting services.

The Asian American Small Business PAC paid roughly $1,950 for voter files and telephone calls on behalf of Edith Fuentes, Glendale's former zoning administrator.

Fuentes, the only Asian candidate in the City Council field, has collected $21,589.

Glendale Firefighters for Better Government have spent $9,418 so far on behalf of Friedman, Najarian and City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian and donated $1,000 each to Kassakhian's and Friedman's campaigns, their treasurer Richard Bush said.

However, that political action committee did not file independent expenditure forms until after a reporter's inquiry and Bush expects to be fined for the late filing.

Committees that spend more than $1,000 but do not properly file expenditure reports could be charged up to $10 for each day a statement is late. And if the matter is referred to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the violation may be punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, said agency spokeswoman Tara Stock.

The Women's Political Committee, which supports progressive women candidates primarily in California, also gave Friedman $1,000, as did the Glendale Management Assn., a city union.

The Glendale Teachers Public Education Improvement Fund, supported by the Glendale Unified teachers union, donated $1,000 to Sinanyan's campaign, the filings show.

Kassakhian has raised $32,056 so far, while his opponent, Stephanie Landregan, has collected $9,103, more than half of which was in the form of a self-made loan.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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