Villaraigosa vows full accounting of free concerts, sports tickets
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he will release records on Friday spelling out the official duties he performed at dozens of concerts, sports events and awards shows that he attended free of charge.
The mayor’s practice of accepting free entry to those events is the subject of an investigation by the city’s Ethics Commission and an inquiry by Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley’s Public Integrity Division. Villaraigosa has argued repeatedly that free entry to such events does not need to be disclosed to the commission as gifts because he was performing official or ceremonial duties, such as handing a proclamation to a musician or athlete.
“Tomorrow, as some of you are aware, we will provide the documentation to support that,” Villaraigosa told a room full of reporters. “It’s five years' worth of documentation. You have to go through boxes and boxes of material. I stand by the idea that this is the entertainment capital of the United States of America and, yes, I am in the job of promoting our city and promoting that.”
The mayor’s office compiled a list of 81 events from his calendars over a five-year period. Of those, one was paid for by the mayor – a U2 concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Villaraigosa’s legal team has been poring through their archives for the last four weeks in their effort to verify the reason for his attendance at those events.
When The Times requested Villaraigosa’s appointment calendar for the period between 2005 and 2009, the mayor’s legal team blacked out or omitted 27 of those athletic and cultural events on grounds that they would violate his privacy, endanger his security or didn’t serve as public records.
The mayor’s office has said since then that there were “inconsistencies” in the handling of his calendar. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t performing an official function,” said the mayor's deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo. Szabo said that Villaraigosa did not attend all of the 80 events that were placed on his calendar by his office.
He did not say which ones were skipped by the mayor. Szabo also said the mayor did not necessarily receive physical tickets to events but was instead simply provided access. “If the mayor’s showing up at an event to perform an official duty, there’s no cost associated with it,” he said.
As one of his official duties Wednesday night, Villaraigosa attended the musical “In the Heights” at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.
The mayor said he believed that he had received free entry from the Pantages. Szabo said the mayor did provide a ceremonial proclamation at the production, but could not say whether Villaraigosa stayed for the entire show.
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall