A union representing hotel workers at the Beverly Hilton has accused the Wanda Group, the Chinese multinational conglomerate that owns AMC, the world’s largest cinema chain, of using foreign money to influence the outcome of a local ballot initiative in Beverly Hills. Read the press release here.
The allegation is the latest development in a long-running dispute between Wanda and the Hilton over who should develop a piece of property next to the hotel. Hilton bypassed the Beverly Hills City Council and the planning commission and put a measure on the November ballot asking voters to approve its proposal to build a 37-story condo tower there. Wanda, which opposes the plan, wants to build a boutique 134-room hotel on the property.
The union, Unite Here Local 11, says it filed a complaint today with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission accusing Wanda of using foreign money to fight the ballot measure, which would violate state and federal election laws. Wanda flatly denies the claim, saying its campaign to defeat the initiative is funded solely by its American interests. (Read the full complaint sent to the FPPC here.)
A spokesman for the Fair Political Practices Commission, however, told Deadline that it has no record of the complaint having been filed. “We don’t have anything as of yet,” said Jay Wierenga, the FPPC’s communications director. “A lot of times those who file will tell the media they have filed before we get the complaint itself.”
Whether the complaint has been filed or not, Wanda called the allegation “frivolous” and unethical. “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 Wanda spokesman Adam Englander. “This 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.”
Wanda officials are said to believe that Hilton is using the union as a “stalking-horse” against Wanda. Hilton officials, however, say they had nothing to do with the union’s filing — or planned filing.