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Cooley Needs to Name a Ticket-Gate Special Prosecutor: Who Better than Walter Moore?

“The state rules require a public official to perform a duty on behalf of [their city]. Merely being a public official is not enough to use this exception.” — Roman Porter,  executive director, Fair Political Practices Commission, told Tibby Rothman, LA Weekly, on Thursday.

With District Attorney Steve Cooley running for California Attorney General, he’s got to look at the political ramifications of going full bore after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for violating the law by not reporting all the gifts of tickets (meals, wine and travel) he’s taken — some clearly from those who stand to profit from the favors he has dispensed.

Will it hurt his chances with Latino voters, hamper his ability to raise campaign funds, cost him the election?
waltermoore.jpg
Politics should not be consideration, nor should Cooley, as his office has indicated, sit back
and wait for the city Ethics Commission to decide on whether Villaraigosa — unlike every other elected official in California — is exempt from city and state ethics laws on reporting gifts because everything he does is ceremonial and part of his official duties.

Based on the Ethics Comission’s track record, the mayor could be out of office and serving on the boards of corporations he’s done favors for by the time a report is issued.
Here’s a suggestion: Why not take the politics out of it and expedite the investigation by appointing a special prosecutor?

Who better for that job than a smart attorney who already has done the legal research and is motivated to get to the bottom of the Ticket-Gate Scandal, namely Walter Moore, the runner-up to Villaraigosa in last year’s mayoral election and the main who filed a formal complaint with the Ethics Commission.

Since early June, Moore has been blogging extensively about Ticket-Gate at his website. He calculated the mayor could face bills of $405,000 for gifts tickets and suggested it was legal for the mayor to accept gifts of Staples Center tickets from AEG because the Municipal Code bans on such gratuities from restricted sources, persons doing business or seeking to do business with the city.

Given the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies AEG has gotten it qualifies under the law as a restricted source.

Recently, he did the legal research for the benefit of the media, public and investigators of the city and state laws on gifts to politicians, noting that Villaraigosa must comply with provisions of both in reporting all income he received to prevent conflicts of interest.

The 1990 city Governmental Ethics Ordinance, he noted, states, “In addition to statements of economic interests filed pursuant to the (state) Political Reform Act of 1974, as amended, high-level filers shall file financial disclosure statements disclosing” various items not required under the state law.  Those items include “[a]ny income (including . . . gifts . . .) regardless of whether the source of income . . . does . . . business in the City of Los Angeles.”

Villaraigosa’s defense for not reporting his gifts comes from a state law provision: “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.”  (Cal. Code Regs. Title 2, Div. 6, § 18944.1.)
 
Moore is unconvinced by the mayor’s spin team that everything he does is in his “official” role as mayor.

“First, Villaraigosa and his staff apparently have no evidence that Villaraigosa actually ‘perform[ed] a ceremonial role or function on behalf of the City,’ within the meaning of the state regulation, at 81 events for which he received tickets,” Moore wrote.

“Second, the mere act of attending a concert, sporting event or stand-up does not constitute performing ‘ceremonial role or function’ under the FPCC regulation.  More is required.”

His research turned up an FPPC opinion letter issued to a City Council Member in Berkeley, explaining why her attending the grand opening of a theater qualified for the “ceremonial role or function” exception

The gist is the Council contributed millions of dollar to open the theater, the council member was introduced at the grand opening and event directors introduced and thanked the Council for its support.

Moore writes: “That is a very far cry indeed from, “You attended Beyonce’s late show.  Wherever you go and whatever you do constitutes official business, because you are special.  ‘Nough said.”

“Villaraigosa needs to prove he attended an event to conduct a ceremony — not that he conducted a ceremony so he could attend an event.  “Here honey, take this nice calligraphy certificate and get lost so Lu and I can see the show.”

Moore notes that city law,unlike the state, doesn’t exempt tickets from being reported if they are worth more than $100

Besides that, city law requires disclosure of all gifts regardless of vallue which is why the mayor’s  most recent disclosure filing included a $15 hat, a $50 clock, $75 worth of tequila, and $150 “event ticket.”

Finally, he points out, Villaraigosa violated city ethics laws by accepting tickets worth more than $100 per year from companies like AEG that are actively involved in seeking permits, subsidies, tax breaks and other concessions from the City. LAMC § 49.5.10.3.  This is a lower dollar limit than state law imposes, namely, $420 per year.  (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 89503(a) ($250 limit) and 89503(f).)

“Bottom line:  Villaraigosa’s acceptance of tickets worth tens of thousands of dollars, and his failure to disclose those tickets on his disclosure forms, constitutes a serious breach of ethics laws,” Moore says. “Don’t be fooled by professional “spinners” who want you to think there’s some loophole that authorizes this type of corruption.  There is not.”

You can read all that and more at waltermooresays.com.

I’m sure Cooley would be squeamish about naming the mayor’s No.1 challenger in last year’s election as a special prosecutor, the man who filed the formal ethics complaint, the man who so clearly has no respect for the way the mayor has ruled the city for the past five years — in his official as well as ceremonial roles.

But that won’t keep Moore from filing friend of the court’s briefs if Cooley actually goes so far as to file charges against Villaraigosa, charges that could go far beyond Ticket-Gate if subpoenas were issued and a grand jury impaneled.

With Moore’s help or on his own, Cooley has the chance to go down in history as the crusading District Attorney who cleaned up LA City Hall or the DA who sat back and let the spin-doctors and manipulators and insiders let the mayor get off with a slap on the wrist. 

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19 Responses to Cooley Needs to Name a Ticket-Gate Special Prosecutor: Who Better than Walter Moore?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Let Walter do it. All the Latinos I know are embarrassed and pissed off that the little shit Mayor has made a mockery of our city and his position. This is the jerk who hit hard against Mayor Hahn. Now who is laughing? I don’t think Cooley will have an issue running for AG with Latinos. I think Latinos all over are sick of these Latino politicians thinking they’re above the law and getting away with murder. This ticket issue is nothing compared to the digging if some reporters did on CRA bullshit, lobbyists inside city hall and so much more corruption. Cooley can come out of this a hero if he has the balls to go hard on the Mayor

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Let Walter do it. All the Latinos I know are embarrassed and pissed off that the little shit Mayor has made a mockery of our city and his position. This is the jerk who hit hard against Mayor Hahn. Now who is laughing? I don’t think Cooley will have an issue running for AG with Latinos. I think Latinos all over are sick of these Latino politicians thinking they’re above the law and getting away with murder. This ticket issue is nothing compared to the digging if some reporters did on CRA bullshit, lobbyists inside city hall and so much more corruption. Cooley can come out of this a hero if he has the balls to go hard on the Mayor. Isn’t the Mayor taking this much money in freebies along the lines of GRAND THEFT which is $250 and a FELONY?

  3. Walter Moore says:

    I’ll get my suit dry-cleaned, and wait for the call. I’m ready! Buh-ring it!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Last night after all the media was hounding the Mayor with questions he still had the audacity to attend the Pantages to see the musical “In the Heights. “The mayor said he believed that he had received free entry from the Pantages. Szabo said the mayor did provide a ceremonial proclamation at the production, but could not say whether Villaraigosa stayed for the entire show.”"”
    So in other words all the Mayor has to do to get in FREE is use our taxpayer dollars to get a proclamation and that’s it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cooley has his hands full – the list of a “candidates” to replace him, should he win in November, is growing. Includes such “winners” as Jack Weiss (yup, he’s baaack!). The key question is timing. Will voters learn who could be his replacement before or after the election? So, the likelihood, in my mind, of Cooley really going after AV lessens when you think about the above.
    I just hope Cooley realizes the risk is worth the reward – voters want to see some politician actually get in trouble, especially one like AV. And, they won’t care who Cooley’s handpicked replacement is – especially in NoCal.
    Meanwhile, Walter is a great idea.

  6. anonymous says:

    Would it be too much to throw in a few other potential violations (provided they are violations)to investigate? That Acebo story still is stunning, as is the alleged land purchase/DWP sale.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bill Boyarsky had better be writing tongue in cheek that the Mayor is entitled to all the freebies he can get. He claims it is a ceremonial role, and thus the entitlements. That’s news to me. Didn’t know we were electing a King of LA (thought they were born into that position). Not that it would be a bad idea. A worthless Mayor as Antonio with little interest in the city is best left to wine & dine. Just strip this position of the huge staff and any role in decision making in affairs of the city, and put it forth as an amendment to the Charter. Better still, just remove this position entirely. We can’t afford such Mayors in this city. And while we are at it, turn Getty House into a museum, sell it, or just lock up the damn place.

  8. anonymous says:

    June 24, 2010 4:56 PM wrote: “And while we are at it, turn Getty House into a museum, sell it, or just lock up the damn place.”
    Getty House was in shambles after Bradley left office. If Bradley lived there, the man deserves credit for not living high on the hog. The place looked slum like inside. During the Riordan administration a non-profit formed that raised money to renovate Getty House. It was, then, used for ceremonial purposes and tours. In a way, it was a museum, complete with donated art. Hahn carried on that way, hosting events, allowing tours, etc. It was shocking to see the present mayor move in and benefit from such non-profit endeavors. It’s too bad that, with the formation of that non-profit, the city didn’t establish this place as purely ceremonial and not for any elected official to personally benefit from. Then again, maybe they did.
    Does anyone have info on the non-profit/city agreements surrounding this?

  9. Sandy Sand says:

    Walter, I can recommend a really good dry cleaner.
    W-O-O-O-W! Brilliant idea. I’ll vote for that special procutor thing.
    Let’s add the IRS to the list of investigations and really pile on Mr. 11 Percent Mayor, and get him a reservation in a Club Fed by Al Capone-ing him. There’s more than one way to exterminate this corrupt rat from office.

  10. Sandy Sand says:

    Walter, I can recommend a really good dry cleaner.
    W-O-O-O-W! Brilliant idea. I’ll vote for that special prosecutor thing.
    Let’s add the IRS to the list of investigations and really pile on Mr. 11 Percent Mayor, and get him a reservation in a Club Fed by Al Capone-ing him. There’s more than one way to exterminate this corrupt rat from office.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When we clean the city of this skunk, the rest should be easy. TV just showed Ms. Corrupt fat Perry by the Mayor’s side during a TV interview. On the other side was that dumb ass Rosendahl. No idea why he was there.

  12. Mort says:

    Ron, Steve Cooley already has a special prosecutor thanks to Nuch sending his special assistant back to the DA’s Office a few weeks ago. It didn’t make much sense at the time, but now the DA’s Office has an expert on the workings of the City, and there’s no conflict of interest problem either. Nuch is far cleverer than people give him credit for, and he spotted this issue early on. Don’t expect it to be just about the Mayor though, Jan Perry will have a little ‘spaining to do too – she’s enjoyed freebies from AEG almost as much as the gang banger Mayor. I hope the special prosecutor nails those two clowns before the November election, I hear he’s already convened a grand jury…

  13. Bishop says:

    Didn’t the Mayor recommend Christine Essel? I wonder why?
    An employee for the CRA, COO Roland Harris gets ENA… signed off by Christine Essel Chief Executive Officer
    RECOMMENDATIONS
    That the CRA/LA Board of Commissioners, subject to City Council review and approval:
    1. Authorize the Chief Executive Officer or designee, to execute an Exclusive Negotiating
    Agreement (“ENA”) with Roland Harris, an individual (“Developer”) for the proposed
    redevelopment of CRA/LA-owned property located at 1636 West Manchester Avenue (and adjoining Developer-owned property) within the Vermont Manchester Redevelopment Project Area (“Project Area’) for a one year term with two ninety-(90)
    day extensions of the ENA; and
    2. Amend the FY10 Budget to recognize a Developer deposit in the amount of $25,000 to
    be deposited into budgeted line item “Commercial and Industrial” to fund CRA/LA consultant expenses related to redevelopment of said two properties.

  14. Anonymous says:

    BTW CRA has grown to $448 MILLION. Now they’re getting into the food business as well.
    One important factor of all this mess of the Mayor and freebies no one has mentioned is the DA’s office needs to subponea and the Ethics Commission ned to interrogate as well is Mayor’s LAPD Metro Security Detail. The Mayor will come out today and LIE about made up documents by his lawyers. LAPD Metro have his schedule from the 5 yrs they have been with his sorry ass. There are LAPD Metro guys who couldn’t take working for this asshole because of lack of ethics and his sleaziness. They will not risk their careers for this gangster. They know the Mayor pretends he support LAPD but all officers know he’s a gangster in a suit. The Mayor’s security detail per year is $450,000. If the Mayor is screwing around going to all these events for free, we the tax payers are paying for his security detail so in add up those figures.

  15. Anonymous says:

    On today’s Council meeting agenda, Jan Perry is bringing back the bungled Slauson Central shopping center project. The community is disgusted how she misused eminent domain to take the property from owners who were ready to build the shopping center themselves. Then she gave them at least $15 million in CRA tax monies to assure her preferred developer, an out of state firm, gets a profit of 18%. Nice huh?
    But when the recent corruption investigations began, Jan Perry started to recuse herself from participating in the City Council’s consideration of Slauson Central. What is Jan Perry’s personal interest in Slauson Central and why has she for years and years voted for and carried this project forward?
    And is she really recusing herself if behind the scenes she or her staff are asking Council members to bring forward the motions and to vote for it? I note that Wesson and Park are making today’s motion to schedule another re-approval of Slauson Central.
    The stink of Perry’s personal interests is rising.

  16. Anonymous says:

    HELLOOOO hasn’t LA been touting being a green city, environmentally safe blablabla!!! How many of you know of city council clowns having 4th of July Toxic fireworks shows? Huizar is having 3 shows that will hurt the environment by setting off toxic bullshit in the air. Other cities have canceled their shows.
    To get back on point let’s see what the idiot Mayor has to say today when he releases his made up documents. LA Weekly’s Jill Stewart was great on KFI yesterday putting out the truth and saying how the Mayor and his lapdogs are already lying. There is so much news footage of the Mayor at these events and too many witnesses. Ron you should tell Bruno to put up that anonymous web site/phone for tips of where he’s been seated at events.

  17. Brilliant idea.
    We are not going to get to the bottom of this mess and all the other shenanigans until the mayor and his staff and his various appointees are deposed under oath by competent counsel.

  18. Anonymous says:

    We need someone agreeing and smart as Walter Moore, but there is obviously a question of impartiality in this choice.
    We need somone like former US Attorney Thomas O’Brien who already is familiar with some of the corruption of the Mayor’s office.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Get anyone, as long as such corruption ends in the city.

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