The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office is looking into Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's free-tickets controversy, with a spokeswoman telling LA Weekly that the office will “review” findings of the city's Ethics Commission in the matter.
The mayor has been in hot water for accepting up to 81 tickets to events that have included Lakers post-season games, the Grammy Awards, the Oscars, Dodgers games and other happenings without declaring them as gifts or campaign contributions.
After receiving citizens' complaints and a request by the mayor himself to clarify the matter, the Ethic Commission reportedly opened an investigation into the matter. News of the mayor's acceptance of the sometimes four-figure tickets was broken by Fox 11 News and then detailed in a months-long investigation by Los Angeles Times reporter Phil Willon.
“Based on published reports, the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division has reviewed the applicable law,” D.A.'s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons told the Weekly. “Attorneys from PID are in contact with the city Ethics Commission and will review its findings.”
The core of the issue is whether Villaraigosa side-stepped ethics rules that require him to disclose the value and source of gifts worth more than $50 so the public can determine whether the gift giver is attempting to exert influence on city policy.
At least one giver, Anshutz Entertainment Group, the company that owns Staples Center, has had plenty of business before the city in recent years, including the development of its LA Live complex.
The mayor has argued that he doesn't have to declare tickets as gifts if he is at an event to perform an official city duty such as giving out a certificate of recognition, which he often does.
-With reporting from Tibby Rothman.