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Villaraigosa contacts ethics officials for possible review after accepting free tickets

June 1, 2010 |  7:12 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has "voluntarily initiated contact" with the city Ethics Commission and City Attorney for a possible review of the way the mayor accepted free tickets to dozens of sporting events, awards shows and concerts since 2005, a Villaraigosa spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Officials in the mayor’s office are feverishly researching Villaraigosa’s calendars, receipts and other documents to determine what “official” or ceremonial role he played at each of the 81 events they say he was scheduled to attend. They also are trying to determine if tickets to all those events were provided free of charge -- and if so by whom -- or if the mayor or the city paid for the tickets.

State and city laws require politicians to report gifts they receive -- and say who gave them -- and accept no more than $420 worth of gifts or tickets from any one source in a year.

In a televised interview last month after sitting courtside at a Lakers game -- where tickets generally run $3,100 -- the mayor acknowledged getting his ticket for free but said he had performed an official duty. Under state law, politicians are not required to report receiving free tickets to events where they have a “ceremonial" or official role.

“After receiving press inquiries about the mayor's attendance at various events, the mayor's office voluntarily initiated contact with the Ethics Commission staff, provided them with same information given to the media, and agreed to provide additional information as it becomes available. We also have communicated with the City Attorney's office on the topic," said Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. “We continue to believe that the mayor has complied with all applicable laws and regulations."

Over the last five years, Villaraigosa has attended 13 Lakers games, often sitting courtside, and 12 Dodgers games. He’s also attended the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards and Grammy Awards. The mayor’s office said Villaraigosa was scheduled to attend more than 20 concerts since 2005, from an Aretha Franklin performance in 2005 to a U2 concert in October.

The only ticket to an awards show, concert or sporting event that Villaraigosa reported as a gift on his required financial disclosure forms was in 2006, when he attended the Academy Awards as a guest of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and declared receiving a $100 "ticket discount."

For the last five years combined, the total value of the four tickets he received to the Oscars ceremony and Governor's Ball is $21,000, an academy spokeswoman said.

Officials with the Ethics Commission and City Attorney's office declined to comment.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall