Fox 11 News reported that the city Ethics Commission has opened a formal investigation into Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's acceptance of sports and entertainment tickets, which could be a no-no as their value was not reported by the city leader as gifts. Reporter John Schwada says that the commission has requested documents related to the tickets from the mayor's office.
The mayor has admitted to accepting 81 tickets to events including Lakers and Dodgers games and entertainment awards shows such as the Oscars. The total value of the tickets could be in the tens of thousands.
Normally the mayor is required to publicly disclose any gifts worth more than $50, including from whom they came. However, he has argued that he was not required to disclose the tickets as gifts because he attended all of the events in an official capacity at the mayor. At each outing, he says, he performed some official city duty such as giving certificates of recognition to athletes and citizens.
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LeeAnn Pelham, executive director of the commission, told LA Weekly: "We wouldn't have any comment into whether we're investigating a matter or not. We have a confidentiality clause in the city charter."
Onetime mayoral candidate Walter Moore told the Weekly that he filed a complaint against the mayor in the matter with the commission. Asked if such a complaint would automatically trigger an investigation, Pelham said: "We review all complaints to determine whether an investigation might be warranted."
The mayor actually turned to the commission to ask for guidance, so it's not clear if ethics officials' reported requests for documents is simply a response to the mayor's own move, or if it would indeed indicate a full investigation of the tickets is underway.
The questions of whether the mayor should report the tickets and tell us from whom they came are valid ones. The owner of Staples Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group, for example, has plenty of business before City Hall and has been the beneficiary of city controlled land, loans and project approvals.