Former Hollywood mogul Ryan Kavanaugh is backing a longshot candidate for L.A. County sheriff who has promised to make it easier to get concealed weapons permits.
Kavanaugh’s Proxima Media gave $215,000 last month to an independent committee that supports Bob Lindsey, a retired sheriff’s commander who is running against incumbent Jim McDonnell in the June 5 election.
Kavanaugh, the former CEO and founder of Relativity Media, contributed to Mothers for a Safe L.A. County, which has raised $312,000 in total in support of Lindsey’s campaign. Other donors include YouTube star Logan Paul and his brother Jake Paul, who each gave $2,000.
A spokesman for Kavanaugh, Henry Eshelman, did not respond to requests for comment. Eshelman is also serving as a spokesman for Lindsey’s campaign, raising an issue of potentially improper coordination between the candidate and the independent committee.
Lindsey has made liberalizing the department’s concealed weapons policy a centerpiece of his campaign. The department generally awards permits only to those who can show that they are in real danger or to law enforcement officials, such as county judges and prosecutors. Lindsey has promised to issue permits to anyone who claims they require one for self-defense, attracting favor from gun-rights supporters.
Kavanaugh used to have a concealed weapons permit but it was taken away. He applied for the permit in 2012, after he and other entertainment executives were targeted in an extortion plot. The permit was issued in January 2013 by then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is serving a five-year sentence in federal prison for obstruction of justice. The permit was rescinded six months after it was issued, after the mogul got in trouble with the department for landing his helicopter on a sheriff’s helipad.
Kavanaugh has long had close ties to the department, raising $150,000 for the Sheriff’s Youth Fund. In the 2014 election, he supported James Hellmold, who finished fourth in the primary.
Relativity went bankrupt in 2015, and recently declared bankruptcy again as it looks to shed liabilities in a sale to UltraV Holdings. The company disclosed in a filing that since emerging from its first bankruptcy in 2016, Kavanaugh has been unable to raise fresh capital. As revenues dwindled in recent months, the company laid off staffers and cut salaries for its few remaining workers. As of this month, the company has 11 employees.
Kavanaugh has signed a consulting contract with UltraV, which will pay him $10,000 a month after the sale goes through, according to filings.