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Ethics panel approves fines for Villaraigosa, 4 council members and 5 entertainment entities over free tickets

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to hand down a little more than $68,000 in fines to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, four City Council members and five businesses and entertainment groups over the practice of giving or receiving free event tickets.

Villaraigosa paid the most, agreeing to accept nearly $21,000 in city fines over his appearance at concerts, awards shows and athletic contests. Councilmembers Tony Cardenas, Eric Garcetti, Jose Huizar and Herb Wesson were fined a combined $13,300 for taking free tickets to Hollywood awards shows and accompanying dinners.

When combined with a state penalty approved earlier this week, the total fines stemming from the investigation into freebies -- triggered by news reports in The Times and KTTV Fox 11 -- exceeded $88,000. Many of the fines involved violations of a city law that bars politicians from receiving gifts worth more than $100 from individuals or businesses that have matters pending before City Hall.

Villaraigosa has created three legal defense funds in response to inquiries over free tickets. That leaves open the possibility that special interests will provide donations to help the mayor pay off his fines and legal bills.

The size of the mayor’s fine dismayed Los Angeles resident George Rheault, who criticized the commission for failing to explain why Villaraigosa was being fined for some events and not others. Rheault told commissioners that the fines should have been larger, since some of the donors of the tickets have benefited from city decisions.

“The mayor got a token wrist slap, and he doesn’t even have to pay out of his own pocket for these things,” Rheault said after the meeting. “I don’t understand why anyone, including the Ethics Commission, thinks this is sufficient.”

Deputy Mayor Sarah Sheahan said the mayor had cooperated fully with the investigation. “We appreciate the commission’s determination that these [violations] were unintentional and made in good faith,” she said in a statement.

Here are the fines approved Tuesday:

$20,849 -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (does not include a related $21,000 state fine)

$13,250 -- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars)

$8,300 -- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys)

$7,900 -- Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys)

$4,800 -- Council President Eric Garcetti

$3,900 -- Black Entertainment Television Networks (BET Awards)

$3,900 -- Councilman Herb Wesson

$2,500 -- Councilman Tony Cardenas

$2,100 -- Councilman Jose Huizar

$799 -- Anschutz Entertainment Group (Staples Center, Nokia Theatre)

TOTAL $68,298


Villaraigosa's free-tickets fine made official by state ethics commission

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Comments () | Archives (11)

Good to see the Mayor learning his lesson by creating legal defense funds to pay his fines.

So as long as you cooperate fully, you will be forgiven with just a little fine that you don't even have to pay with your own money. WOW The city is a third world government in of itself. Hey criminals out there, just cooperate and you too will just get a slap in the wrist. When does this Mayor's term end already?

Perhaps everyone entering politics should keep in mind Prof. Milton's warning: There's no such thing as a free lunch.

This City IS really in trouble if the Ethic Commission really believes that the mayor didn't know he was in the wrong, not to mention the other 4. They should make them all pay out of their pockets like the judges did to the Bell "8."

If the punishment is supposed to fit the crime, where is the part where he suffers some kind of punishment?

So let me get this straight, our mayor was received $"68.000 in fines for some events and not others". Yet the Times and KTTV Fox 11 said he received free event tickets worth $88,000. But (get this) the Ethics Commission, thinks this is "sufficient”.
And he doesn’t even have to pay out of his own pocket because "special interests will provide donations to help the mayor pay off his fines and legal bills". WHAT? Damn between Villaraigosa who should have to pay another $20,000 and McCourt who owes a minimum of $61,000 back to the people of L.A. who paid for something HE is responsible for. The bottom line is L.A. is full of good people but these two guys are something else.

The mayor is going to pay fines for 33 ethics violations...by taking money from more people trying to get in bed with his office. While this isn't illegal, it certainly is unethical. It's amazing to me that people roll over and smile for a mayor who is unqualified, unethical and only out to make money for himself and move into higher political offices.

This is a symptom of a much greater problem.

Having others pay for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's fines exposes his unscrupulous behavior. He won't accept personal responsibility for his own violations.

The City Ethics Commission's decision to give the Mayor a slap on the wrist invites him to steal from another cookie jar. I think it also condones his violations.

Will he be going to confession too to get absolved too? Nice to have friends in high places? I can only imagine his list of enablers covering his violations.

Other citizens and businesses would have been more likely prosecuted for the same violations.

I wonder if we paid him for the 12,000 hours he spent at those events it equals out to about 4 hours of his work day for every day hes been in office :D i did the math 3000 x 4 hours per event = 12000 work days in office 1550, work hours
at 8 hours a day 12,480 total real work possible 480 hours
total days actually worked in 6 years 60 days:D

This sounds like a woefully inadequate punishment to me, especially if he can pay the fines with money that is likely to come from the same place the illegal tickets came from.

Allowing Mayor Tony to set up legal defense funds to pay the fine is absurd...the fines should be paid by deucting the money from his paycheck. Take away half his paycheck for a few months and the fines will be paid. If there is a legal defense fund, the same people that gave him those tickets will be asked to donate and pay for the fines... This is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever paid a fine for anything...


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