Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will have to pay almost $42,000 in fines for accepting free tickets to events, including the Academy Awards, Dodgers playoffs and an “American Idol” finale, according to an ethics agreement released today.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission will penalize the mayor $21,000 for failing to report gifts between 2006 and 2009. The Ethics Commission will similarly fine Villaraigosa $20,849, according to an agreement reached between the three parties.
The FPPC will vote on the agreement at its April 11 meeting, and the Ethics Commission will next meet on April 12.
According to documents from the state commission, the mayor failed to report 21 gifts valued at $50 or more. Here, the gifts were tickets and passes to a wide range of events, including the:
- Academy Awards ceremony and Governor’s Ball
- Grammys and after-party
- Latin Grammys after-party
- Screen Actors Guild ceremony and party
- BET Awards
- USC vs. UCLA football game
- Lakers games
- Dodgers games and playoffs
- “American Idol” finale
Additionally, the city Ethics Commission found that between 2007 and 2010, the mayor accepted 12 gifts from lobbyists and restricted sources, including the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
“Respondent Villaraigosa has been in office in one capacity or another for almost 20 years,” according to the commission’s findings. “He has received ethics training regarding the rules of gift disclosure on numerous occasions over the span of his career … Villaraigosa’s large number of unreported gifts, a total of 21, deprived the public of knowledge of gifts from groups or individuals that may have had business before the city of Los Angeles.”
Villaraigosa cooperated with the investigation, according to the commission, and provided information to ethics officials before it was requested. Investigators concluded the the mayor’s omissions were unintentional “as he had a good faith belief that the tickets or passes he received to events were not ‘gifts’ within the meaning of the (ethics code) … Villaraigosa’s failure to include these events on his (disclosure statements) was based on a mistaken understanding of his legal requirements.”
In a written statement, Villaraigosa said:
While appreciating that the Fair Political Practices Commission and city Ethics Commission concluded this was ‘unintentional’ and that I acted in ‘good faith’, I am fully accountable. It is my responsibility to make sure I act in strict compliance with the applicable rules.
The FPPC and Ethics Commission recognized that supporting entertainment, sports, and other cultural events is an important governmental function, and something our city’s mayor should do.
I will continue to attend these events and have taken the necessary steps to ensure full compliance in the future.
Villaraigosa could have been fined a total of $167,000.