LA Mayor Fined For Freebies

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa amassed the largest combined fine ever recommended by the California Fair Political Practices Commission – more than $40,000 – for alleged violations including failure to report free tickets to dozens of sports and entertainment events.

A joint investigation by the CFPPC and the Los Angeles Ethics Commission found in 34 instances the mayor failed to report tickets ranging from L.A. Lakers games to concerts to the finals of “American Idol.”

In all, Villaraigosa said he has attended more than 3,000 events during the time frame of the investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Villaraigosa has reportedly agreed to the fines, but said most of the events he attended for free were in his official capacity as mayor, and not intentional violations.

“If approved, the proposed joint stipulation entered into by Mayor Villaraigosa and the Fair Political Practices Commission and the LA Ethics Commission would be the largest ethics fine in the history of the FPPC,” said Roman Porter, the state agency’s executive director, and quoted by the Times.

He said the mayor has agreed to the fine. In a statement, Villaraigosa said the violations were unintentional and that he did not consider the tickets as gifts. Rather, the mayor said he attended the events in his official capacity as mayor.

The city commission voted last year to bar L.A. elected officials from accepting any free tickets, event to events where they are perforimg ceremonial duties or otherwise conducting official business.

The issue arose after Villaraigosa copped to accepting tickets to such events as the Academy Awards, “American Idol” finals, a Spice Girls concert, and L.A. Lakers and Dodgers games. Donors included Anschutz Entertainment Group, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“Villaraigosa has been in office in one capacity or another for almost 20 years. He has received ethics training regarding the rules of gift disclosure on numerous occasions over the span of his career,” the staff wrote. He also could have sought legal advice from state and local ethics commissions, the staff said.