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California ethics agency investigating L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa's acceptance of free tickets

June 29, 2010 |  1:28 pm

The state’s ethics watchdog agency has opened an investigation to determine whether Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was engaged in his "ceremonial role or duty’’ when he accepted thousands of dollars in free tickets to sporting events and concerts, officials said Tuesday.

Villaraigosa was notified of the probe late Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. It had been requested by local authorities who were already investigating the issue, according to Roman Porter, executive director of the state agency.

"Due to the unique nexus of state and local laws, the FPPC was asked to open an investigation into allegations that Mayor Villaraigosa may have received reportable gifts and that some of these may exceed gift limits," Porter told The Times.

"The L.A. Ethics Commission, L.A. district attorney’s office and FPPC have separate jurisdictions and we are cooperatively working together to appropriately and fully investigate this matter."

Calls to the mayor's office for comment were not immediately returned. But Villaraigosa has said that his acceptance of free tickets to 85 athletic events, award shows and concerts is not subject to state disclosure law because he attended as part of his official duties as mayor.

The FPPC has jurisdiction over the state law that defines what constitutes ceremonial duties and what is exempt from disclosure.

The state regulation says: "A ticket or pass provided to an official for his or her admission to an event at which the official performs a ceremonial role or function on behalf of the agency is not a gift to the official."

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento