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LA mayor to be fined for taking free tickets

A state agency recommended a record ethics fine against Villaraigosa for failing to report free tickets to dozens of events.

April 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's campaign finance watchdog recommended a record ethics fine against Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for failing to report free tickets to dozens of entertainment events.

It's a hefty fine, but it's below the maximum possible. A commission spokesman says the mayor has agreed to the fine.

The recommendation was a result of a joint investigation by the state agency and the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. Each agency is recommending fines of about $21,000.

The action was published Friday by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

In the agreement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission and the City Ethics Commission, Villaraigosa acknowledges failing to report nearly three dozen free tickets to events during his first five years in office.

The commission says the violation was "unintentional" and that Villaraigosa had a "good faith belief that the tickets were not reportable gifts."

The mayor said he attended all the events on officials business. Villaraigosa said in a statement that he accepted the agency's findings.

"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," he said. "I will continue to attend these events and have taken the necessary steps to ensure full compliance in the future."

The mayor said he's attended more than 3,000 events since becoming mayor. The commission acknowledged the violations are just a fraction of Villaraigoa's public appearances.

L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine says as mayor, you must represent the city at a wide range of events.

"I think the fine is ridiculous because the mayor is charged with the entire city operations, and he is required and requested at numerous events," Zine said.

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted in September to ban elected city officials from accepting free tickets to sporting or entertainment events.

At dozens of events, the mayor would present a proclamation, then sit down and watch a free game or award ceremony. Others did it, but Villaraigosa was the most visible.

The FPPC is set to vote on the agreement on its April 11 board meeting.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.