Ticketgate: A Look at the 80 Freebies Villaraigosa Accepted
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa squires his main squeeze, KTLA's Lu Parker on the red carpet for the 2010 Academy Awards (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
There are 80 events on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official schedule since he took office in 2005 for which he did not pay to attend. He may not have even attended all of them, but shoddy records kept by his office mean a blurry paper trail pegging the source of each of these gifts, and the "official duty" Villaraigosa would have performed in attendance in order to justify his accepting the freebies in the first place.
With an investigation launched by the District Attorney to explore if these occasions were, in fact, violations of ethics rules governing gifts to an elected official, Villaraigosa's constituents are becoming aware of the vast scope of the cost of these tickets.
The LA Weekly recently gained access to the list of the 80 events in question, and according to their estimated calculations, "Villaraigosa has taken tickets worth $50,000, and perhaps as much as $100,000 — a staggering amount for an American politician at any level, and more than he could cover with his $223,000 salary and extensive family obligations," they explain.
Among the events under Ticketgate scrutiny: Numerous seats at the 2006-2010 Academy Awards at $4200 apiece; numerous seats at the 2006-2009 Emmy Awards at $1300 apiece; several courtside seats to Lakers games valued at around $2200 each; multiple Dodgers games, including playoffs; 2009 LA Philharmonic opening concert; and dozens more concerts, awards ceremonies, and sporting events.
Of all the 81 items on the list, Villaraigosa can point to records indicating he paid, and just sat back and enjoyed the show with his girlfriend, Lu Parker, at just one single event: An October 2009 U2 concert. It would be hard for him to justify "official duties" as the Mayor of Los Angeles there; it was held in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl.