×

Wanda Accused of Using Foreign Money in Beverly Hills Ballot Fight

The Dalian Wanda Group is accused in a new complaint of using foreign money to influence the outcome of a ballot measure in Beverly Hills.

UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents hotel workers, filed the complaint on Thursday with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Federal Election Commission. It accuses the Wanda Group of funneling overseas money into a committee to oppose a ballot measure sponsored by the Beverly Hilton.

Wanda and the Beverly Hilton are locked in a bitter fight over the fate of two adjacent parcels on the west end of Beverly Hills.

The Wanda Group wants to build a $1.2 billion project that would include 193 condominiums and 134 hotel rooms. The project would sit on the former Robinson’s-May department store site, which is just west across Merv Griffin Way from the Beverly Hilton. The Hilton has attacked the project at the Beverly Hills Planning Commission, raising particular concerns about a loading dock that would sit across from the Hilton’s entrance.

The Hilton, owned by Beny Alagem, has its own plans to build a 375-foot condominium tower at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Merv Griffin Way. The Hilton opted to bypass the typical city approval process and take the plan directly to voters in November.

Wanda has now launched a campaign to defeat the initiative, sending mailers arguing that the tower would be twice as tall as the next highest building in Beverly Hills. One mailer depicts the tower as taller than Big Ben, taller than the Columbia Records tower, and taller than three Statues of Liberty stacked on top of each other.

The mailers state that they were paid for by American affiliates of the Wanda Group, including Wanda Beverly Hills Properties LLC and Lakeshore East Parcel P, LLC. The latter is related to a Wanda joint venture development in Chicago.

UNITE HERE’s attorney, Gary Winuk, alleges in the complaint that the contributions were made with the participation of Chinese nationals, including Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin. It alleges that this would violate state and federal law against the use of foreign money in elections.

“There appears to be little chance that funding a very public, high profile opposition campaign against a neighboring project would have been done without some participation or direction from the parent corporation,” Winuk wrote.

In a statement, a Wanda spokesman maintained that the opposition campaign was funded by U.S. entities.

“Although we have not been sent a copy of the complaints or been contacted by any agencies, we are confident that all allegations are baseless, as our campaign reports clearly show that this is a campaign fully funded and controlled by American interests with no foreign control or money in any way, shape or form,” said spokesman Adam Englander. “This lawsuit is just another unethical campaign tactic by the Beverly Hilton and their surrogates to bully those who oppose the Hilton Skyscraper Initiative and their circumvention of the public review process.”

UNITE HERE represents workers at the Beverly Hilton. According to Wanda, the union has not had conversations with Wanda about potentially representing the workers at the new Wanda hotel. The union has spoken against the Wanda project at the Beverly Hills Planning Commission, and raised traffic concerns in a letter to the city.

Marie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Hilton, emphasized that UNITE HERE was acting on its own.

“We are not part of this complaint and have nothing to do with this,” she said.

More Biz

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Seeks to Stop Appointment of Special Prosecutor

    Jussie Smollett’s lawyers filed a motion on Friday to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor in his hate crime hoax case, arguing the appointment would expose the “Empire” actor to double jeopardy. Smollett is seeking to reverse an order issued last month by Judge Michael Toomin, who faulted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx [...]

  • Katy Perry American Idol judge

    Katy Perry Testifies in ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Trial

    Katy Perry took the stand Thursday and testified that she had never heard the song “Joyful Noise” before she was accused of infringing on its copyright, according to ABC 7 in Los Angeles. Christian hip-hop artist Marcus Gray and the song’s co-writers claim that Perry’s 2013 track “Dark Horse” uses an uses an instrumental phrase [...]

  • Kannan Alagappan - Dish

    Dish Hires Ex-Telstra Exec Kannan Alagappan as CTO

    Dish Network hired Kannan Alagappan, who has held technology leadership roles with telecom and cloud services providers including Australia’s Telstra, Reliance’s Jio and Rackspace, as SVP and chief technology officer. Alagappan assumes the CTO role after the exit of former chief technology officer Vivek Khemka in August 2018 to join John Malone’s Liberty Latin America. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content