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LA Mayor Fined By Ethics Agency
Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2011
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and the mayor of Los Angeles has learned that under California ethics laws there can be no free basketball games, concerts, or seats at the Academy Awards.Commission levied nearly $42,000 in fines to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the largest fine of its kind. Records show the mayor had failed to report free tickets to events ranging from the American Idol Finale, Los Angeles Lakers games, and numerous concerts.
The case illustrates two different interpretations of attending an event in an official capacity. The mayor insisted he was not in violation of the gifts laws because he was performing ceremonial duties. FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter says there may be an occasion when an elected official is performing “some type of official activity. But it didn’t rise to the level of a ceremonial duty.”
The fine could have been as high as $167,000 between the FPPC ruling and the ethics commission recommendation, but Villaraigosa showed he had made a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.“ It is my responsibility to make sure I act in strict compliance with the applicable rules,” said the mayor when agreeing to pay the fine.
According to Porter, transparency in reporting gifts is not only the law but good government. “The public has a right to know which individuals are attempting to influence public official by providing them with meals, entertainment, and other gifts.”
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