Last month we told you about Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's "statement of economic interests," essentially an annual list of valuable gifts he has to file with the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The idea is that the people should know who is showering their representatives with cuff links and free travel, since campaign contributions are also subject to public disclosure.
This week Fox 11 News reported that one quite-valuable item didn't make the mayor's gifts list: Courtside tickets to Lakers playoffs games, which reporter John Schwada states can be worth $2,000, even $3,000. It appears the wily Mayor V. has found a loophole that keeps the tix off the list and protects the identity of whomever gave them to his honor:
Villaraigosa argues that when he's at the games in an official city capacity -- say like reporters who cover the Lakers and have to be on the floor to interview Kobe -- he doesn't have to report the tickets as gifts.
The mayor also reportedly said that the ceremonial duties at Lakers games provide an out for a city law that forbids elected officials from accepting gifts from entities, such as Staples Center parent Anschutz Entertainment Group, that lobby City Hall for things like public loans, land and subsidies (quite successfully we might add).
AEG is the company, by the way, that continues to refuse to fork over $3.2 million in city costs for its Michael Jackson memorial concert. So, if indeed it is behind those valuable tickets (ultimately, AEG controls those seats), it's not like it hasn't gotten its money's worth. And it's not like the mayor and certain City Council members friendly with AEG are exactly beating down its door, demanding the money, even as the city has faced historic deficits and the prospect of fewer cops and firefighters.
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Schwada asks the mayor, the tickets are "worth three thousand bucks right?"
"I don't know exactly how much it's worth but I can tell you that as I understand it's not a gift when I have an official role there," Villaraigosa says.
The station reports that at the games Mayor V. sometimes makes an official pronouncement, like the time recently when he gave a soccer star an official city certificate. Viola! Free, Jack Nicholson-adjacent seats.
We assume that the city's boycott of Arizona business over its immigration law doesn't extend to playoff games with the Phoenix Suns, although it would be a symbolic gesture if the mayor walked off the court in protest or at least wore a "Do I Look Illegal?" t-shirt instead of his usual fine Italian suit.