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News

Sanders Campaign Alleges L.A. City Councilman Meddled In Campaign Event, Forced Venue Change

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Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, we reported that the Bernie Sanders campaign was going to host a Saturday evening concert at the Greek Theatre. This changed when the Sanders campaign sent out an email Friday evening letting those who had RSVP'd to the event know that its circumstances were altered, and that the concert was actually going to be held on the lawn near the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

The reason doesn't have anything to do with the lawn in front of the Coliseum being more egalitarian than the hills of Los Feliz. Instead, the Sanders campaign alleges personal action from L.A. City Councilman David Ryu, who represents the area around the Greek, "forced" the campaign to change venues. As the campaign explained in an email:

Unfortunately, after reaching terms with the professional staff at the Greek to host our rally, interference from a local Los Angeles city councilman forced us to move from this iconic venue, even though Secretary Clinton has scheduled an identical event two days later—an event to which no objection has been raised.

As the L.A. Times reports, a Sanders campaign staffer said, in an email to the Greek Theatre, that Ryu had set up "roadblocks" that forced the change of venue. Ryu endorsed Clinton and visited a fundraiser for her in March.

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In reality, however, the "roadblocks" the Sanders campaign speaks of are standard city policy. Where the campaign advertised the concert as a "free" and "open-to-the-public" event, the Greek theatre operates only on a ticket-based system. The tickets can be free, but people inside of the theatre must have been issued a ticket to be there, reports the Los Feliz Ledger.

Sanders' campaign did not have a ticketing system set up for guests to register at the Greek, furnishing only an "RSVP strongly encouraged" statement on its website.

Estevan Montemayor, a spokesperson for Ryu's office, explained to the Times how the Sanders campaign's allegations distort what supposedly happened.

“Any person or organization that chooses to have an event at the Greek Theatre needs to follow all the same guidelines," Montemayor said to Times. “The Sanders campaign was asked to work with L.A. city staff on a traffic mitigation plan and a ticketing system, just as the Clinton campaign has done for their event on Monday evening. The Sanders campaign chose not to move forward, all while the city held resources for tomorrow’s event.”

Instead of setting up a ticketing system, the Sanders campaign chose to change venues.

Of course, the language the campaign uses in its email explaining the venue change seems to hint that the campaign and Greek had reached an agreement to host the event without ticketing. The Greek is owned by the City of Los Angeles, and it certainly is possible that David Ryu might have gotten involved, and forced the Greek to comply with the law, notwithstanding any agreements between the venue's managerial staff and the Sanders campaign.