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The Real Deal Los Angeles

State commission denies Gary Winuk’s request to investigate Wanda Beverly Hills

“We found no evidence that the contributor is a foreign principal,” enforcement chief said

October 07, 2016 05:53PM
By Hannah Miet

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A rendering of Wanda's One Beverly Hills project to the right, with a rendering of the existing Hilton hotel to the left, and attorney Gary Winuk (via Twitter)

A rendering of Wanda’s One Beverly Hills project to the right, with a rendering of the existing Hilton hotel to the left, and attorney Gary Winuk (via Twitter)

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has denied the request of Gary Winuk, a Sacramento attorney at the center of the development battle between Beny Alagem’s Oasis West Realty and Wanda Group’s Beverly Hills subsidiary.

“We found no evidence that the contributor is a foreign principal,” Galena West, the chief of the Commission’s enforcement division, said in a letter to Winuk, obtained by The Real Deal

Winuk had alleged that China’s Wanda Group was illegally “funneling money” into a campaign committee formed to oppose Alagem’s ballot measure. Winuk’s complaint to the commission was made public in the Los Angeles Times.

West said Winuk had not provided “evidence to substantiate the allegation that a foreign principal was the source of the money” given to the campaign.

“Therefore, the Enforcement Division will not open a case on this matter,” she said.

The campaign in question is “No on HH,” largely funded by Wanda Beverly Hills. It attempts to persuade residents to vote against the initiative that would allow Oasis West to bypass the usual city planning review process to build a 26-story condo tower that would become the tallest building in the city. If approved, it would sit next door to Wanda’s One Beverly Hills project.

The motivations of Winuk — who sent the complaint on behalf of Unite Here 11, a union that represents workers at Alagem’s Beverly Hilton hotel — have come under scrutiny. It wasn’t the first time Winuk had filed a letter against Wanda’s Beverly Hills project. He also sent a complaint on behalf of “anonymous citizens,” and many suspected a connection to Alagem’s camp. A spokesperson interviewed by TRD denied any ties, but the head of Wanda Beverly Hills recently gave an interview insisting a connection exists.

“The Beverly Hilton and some of the proponents of Measure HH have resorted to xenophobic language in order to try to discredit us and the One Beverly Hills project,” Rohan a’Beckett, the deputy GM of Wanda Beverly Hills, told the Hollywood Reporter. “There is only one entity that benefits from Mr. Winuk’s attempts to derail the One Beverly Hills project and bully opponents of Measure HH.”

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