The MTA ethics officer drafted a censure letter last year against L.A. Councilman Bernard Parks for accepting illegal campaign contributions. But the MTA board never followed up on it, according to a confidential memo issued last Friday.
The L.A. Weekly reported last week that Parks had accepted $4,800 in prohibited contributions from Metropolitan Transportation Authority bidders and contractors. The story was based on a confidential report prepared last year by the MTA Office of Inspector General. The report recommended that no action be taken against Parks because he had already resigned from the board.
But in a memo to the board last Friday — apparently in response to the Weekly story — Chief Ethics Officer Karen
Gorman noted that the MTA board could have censured Parks, and that her department gave the board that option last year.
“A draft censure letter was provided by the OIG to the Chair for consideration,” Gorman wrote.
The chair at the time was Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian. In her memo, Gorman said she was never informed of the outcome of the matter. The board did not openly censure Parks, and to date it appears that no action has been taken to enforce the MTA's contribution laws.
Maureen Micheline, Najarian's transportation deputy, said that he never received a draft censure.
“Everything went through me and I never saw a draft censure letter, ever,” Micheline said. “I think it's odd you would send a draft letter and not follow up. That seems weird, but I know Ara didn't have anything to do with it.”
Parks' opponent in the March 8 council race is Forescee Hogan-Rowles. Her campaign has denounced the MTA for “covering up” the results of the investigative report.
Following the Parks investigation, Gorman sent a letter last year to remind all board members of their obligation not to accept illegal contributions from bidders and contractors.
Gorman also reminded board members on Friday that OIG reports “are confidential and are not subject to public or press disclosure.”
The Weekly story noted that MTA had denied the existence of the report last summer, and then refused to release it.
“Our office does support and promote transparency in government, within the limits of the law,” Gorman wrote.