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County supervisors spend funds on chauffeurs, parties and websites. Check out the database.

March 11, 2010 |  8:34 am

At a time when county government is tightening its belt, a new Times investigation examined how the five L.A. County supervisors spend $3.4 million a year they receive in discretionary funding.

According to records, they use the money in part to pay chauffeurs, hold parties for friends and lobbyists and support pet projects. They also use it to help bolster programs and services in their districts.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas gave $25,000 last year to throw a reception for a for-profit exhibit on the African American experience organized by TV and radio host Tavis Smiley, a longtime friend.

He also donated $25,000 last year to the Diva Foundation, whose mission is to support groups that conduct AIDS research, education and support. Its president, Tony-nominated Sheryl Lee Ralph, emceed his 2008 campaign kickoff. The charity holds one main event each year, a concert in Beverly Hills, outside Ridley-Thomas' South Los Angeles district. Ridley-Thomas used $25,000 to buy a place in Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles.

Check out a searchable database that allows readers to look at how the county supervisors spent their discretionary funds. Read Garrett Therolf's story here to see how Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Mike Antonovich spend their funds.