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90024: Westwood's Donations Cross Political Lines

Tasbeeh Herwees |
April 28, 2012 | 3:04 p.m. PDT

Special Project Reporter

This story is part of a Neon Tommy Special Report that follows 2012 campaign money in L.A.  >>>


“Do you see what they’re doing to Ann Romney? Terrible,” says Mary Sharif.

She’s upset at the backlash the presidential contender’s wife has faced for her image as a wealthy stay-at-home mother, far removed from the plight of working class women raising families in lower-income homes.

“She’s raised five boys, good clean boys,” Sharif rails on a sunny day at the Los Angeles Temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Westwood, Los Angeles. Sharif describes herself as a “conservative” politically.

“I’m very drawn to Mitt Romney,” she says, “But not because he’s a Mormon.”

The Mormon Temple in Westwood (Courtesy of Creative Commons)
The Mormon Temple in Westwood (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Sharif is a convert to the church herself, but she says her religion has little to do with how she votes.

“Knowing what kind of man he is, he’s an economy fixer,” says Sharif, who says she’s concerned with how much the government spends, “Not like Obama, who’s an economy destroyer.”

Voters who share Sharif’s political views are few and far between in Westwood, a neighborhood that has contributed to the Democratic campaign in numbers that almost completely overwhelm all contributions by the Republican constituency in the area. Los Angeles, in general, notoriously leans towards the Left of national politics but Obama has Westwood in particular to thank for more than $6 million in campaign contributions.


Westwood, however, is also home to the second-largest Mormon temple in the United States. The LDS Temple on Santa Monica Blvd -- sitting right on the border of Westwood and Century City -- looms large over the busy main street.

Sharif, a congregant of the Temple and a resident of West Los Angeles for over 37 years, parrots the Los Angeles Temple’s Public Affairs Office line: the Temple does not endorse any political campaign, candidate or party. They promote a separation of Church and State, as well as a literal application of the United States’ Constitution.

Two of the top five political contributions from the 90024 zip code -- two $50,000 donations -- went to the Mitt Romney SuperPac known as “Restore Our Future." Though Obama is clearly the winner in Westwood, having cleaned up over $6 million in donations, Romney’s meager $2.7 million are not insignificant. Nor is it random for the Republican candidate to do so well in a neighborhood which has historically voted Democrat.

The Temple declares the contents of its sermons apolitical, it made headlines a few years ago when Church leaders allegedly urged their members to contribute to the Prop 8 campaign to ban gay marriage. Opponents of the measure said the LDS Church was responsible for over $20 million in donations for Prop 8 made by its members.

Whether an issue of causation or correlation, the LDS Church and its members have a place in the political sphere. As Romney becomes closer and closer to being the top Republican candidate for president of the United States, the question will be whether he truly has “The Mormon Vote” to count on. In Los Angeles, Sharif believes that’s just not the case.

“We have staunch liberal Mormons who have voted for Obama,” she says, visibly ruffled by the idea, “But I don’t trust Obama, because what he promised, he didn’t do it.”


Reach Special Project Reporter Tasbeeh Herwees here.

Graphic by Robin Laird





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