That Antonio Villaraigosa, he's a wily one. After the city Ethics Commission voted to prohibit elected officials from accepting valuable tickets to sports and entertainment events so they could undertake so-called official duties (and we emphasize the sound of "duty"), the mayor said late Tuesday that he would abide by the change.
It was a slick comment because it suggests that what he had done all along -- accept valuable tix, some from folks who had business before the City Council -- was okay until now (well, almost -- the City Council has to approve the commission's move). Here's what Mayor V. told Fox 11 News after the commission's vote:
"If they change the rules I'm going to comply with them because I support transparency."
Really? Here's a leader who dragged his feet on offering the public the number of tickets he accepted and the source of the gifts (some are still a mystery), but he's down for "transparency."
But the real slick move here is Villaraigosa's statement that it would take a rule change to make what he did wrong. Without it, he was right. Right?
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Villaraigosa came under fire in June after the Los Angeles Times revealed that he had accepted valuable tickets to Lakers games, the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards and other events.
The mayor's office argues that he could accept the tickets without listing them as political gifts so long as he used them to perform official functions at such events.
But the Ethics Commission voted that no such loophole should exist: That officials who want to stay at a Lakers game after giving the towel boy a key to the city should pay for a ticket.
Of course, the big question is whether that opinion will apply to what Villaraigosa has already done -- by LA Weekly's count, he's accepted as much as $100,000 worth of tix. Commission vote or not, the mayor's ticket scandal was still being looked at by the District Attorney's office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission.