Villaraigosa Ticketgate: Lawyers Produce 422 Pages of Records Showing Mayor Used Ticket Freebies for 'Official Duties'
AP Photo/Reed Saxon
An investigation by a City ethics committee and District Attorney Steve Cooley's office has prompted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's staff and lawyer to prepare a lengthy document chronicling his acceptance and use of tickets to high profile sporting and entertainment events since he took office in 2005, reports the LA Times.Villaraigosa "ticketgate" has found the civic leader's behavior and lax record-keeping scrutinized in recent weeks. Because of the structure of city and state political ethics codes and law, someone in Villaraigosa's position is barred from accepting gifts, such as tickets to pricey events like Lakers championship games and the Academy Awards, in excess of $420 from a given donor. Further, gifts valued at over $50 must be reported. However, if the Mayor is at an event to perform "official duties," he is exempt from these rules.
These duties typically involve such things as presenting certificates to participants of an event, or, as his lawyer asserts, in the case of the Oscars, being photographed on the red carpet as a way of symbolizing the valued role the entertainment industry plays in our city.
Representatives of the Mayor have said that Villaraigosa cannot be expected to recall what duties were performed at what event: "He is all over the city, and sometimes he spends five minutes at a location and sometimes he spends 45 minutes."
The records produced yesterday include "an e-mail exchange, just a few months after Villaraigosa took office, in which a lobbyist for a prominent downtown developer appears to give advice on how the mayor could cite 'official' business as a way to accept the free tickets."
Where Villaraigosa may have blurred the lines is when free admission was granted to his girlfriend or family members to some of these events. His lawyers admitted yesterday "for the first time that he might have to reimburse donors for the free tickets he passed on to relatives and friends."