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Donating to a L.A. Political Campaigns Could be Banned for Bidders of City Contracts

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Photo by hall.chris25 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by hall.chris25 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Should a construction company seeking a contract from the city for its next big project be able to donate to or fundraise for political campaigns? If you ask the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and at least one-third of the City Council, the answer is "no." The Commission already last month urged councilmembers to adopt an ordinance forbidding companies with pending business before the city from handing out gifts -- you know, like the free courtside tickets to Lakers games or a red carpet walk and seat at the Oscars -- to elected officials and their staffs, but left out were campaign donations and fundraising. On Tuesday, however, the group took a step to fill that gap and unanimously recommended a similar measure (.pdf) be placed on the 2011 municipal ballot.

“A ban on bidder contributions and fundraising that is clear, balanced, and narrowly tailored will further the voters’ mandate for open and accountable decision making,” said Commission President Helen Zukin.

The commission added a handful of additional recommendations to the ban, including stopping not just bidders, but also "their agents, their subcontractors, and their subcontractors’ agents" from donating to candidates and punishing violators of the law by banning them from contracting with the city for four years.

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The ban was recommended by five city councilmembers -- President Eric Garcetti, Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, Ed Reyes and Bill Rosendahl -- in a motion filed in September. Ballot measures for the March 2011 election must be decided upon by November 3rd.