Los Angeles mayor fined for ethics violation

Updated: 2011-04-13 13:25
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and four city councilmen were ordered Tuesday to pay a fine totalling US$34,000 for accepting gifts in violation of city law.

The mayor, along with City Council members Eric Garcetti, Herb Wesson, Tony Cardenas and Jose Huizar, were found guilty of accepting gifts worth more than US$100 each from lobbyists or businesses or groups seeking to do business with the city, the City Ethics Commission (CEC) said.

The gifts were mostly tickets to sporting and entertainment events, according to the commission.

The commission accused the mayor of 33 ethics violations for accepting tickets to Laker and Dodger games, the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards and an "American Idol" event.

The commission noted that Villaraigosa had attended more than 3,000 events since becoming mayor in 2005.

In addition to city ethics, Villaraigosa was also found guilty of violating similar state laws, according to the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which conducted a joint investigation with the CEC.

Villaraigosa was fined 20,849 dollars by the CEC and 22,000 by the FPPC.

The four councilmen will share the rest of the 34,000-dollar fine imposed by the CEC.

Villaraigosa would have paid a maximum 160,000-dollar fine, but investigators reduced the fine due to the fact that his failure to report the gifts was unintentional.

"While appreciating that the Fair Political Practices Commission and City Ethics Commission concluded this was ' unintentional' and that I acted in 'good faith,' I am fully accountable," Villaraigosa said in a written statement when the fines were first announced.

"It is my responsibility to make sure I act in strict compliance with the applicable rules," he said then. "I will continue to attend these events and have taken the necessary steps to ensure full compliance in the future."

The CEC also imposed fines on some of the gift providers, which include the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (13,250 dollars); Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (US$7,900); Black Entertainment Television (US$3,900) and entertainment giant AEG (US$799).