UPDATE Lawyer: Antonio Villaraigosa is above the anticorruption laws; public has no right to know who gave him free tickets
By Tibby Rothman and Jill Stewart
|He's very, very special|
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's attorneys, after promising the public they would divulge his extensive acceptance of free tickets, meals, alcohol, parking and other goodies that he failed to report under anticorruption laws for the past five years, today instead released a log that fails to explain which corporations and other entities handed him all that largesse.
(Here, in pdf form, is the [log of the mayor's events] and some names of those who paid the mayor's way. It does not include the photocopies of stubs and photos also released today.)
But the truly strange goings-on today stood out for one message: the ethics laws written specifically for Los Angeles City and California politicians do not apply to the mayor, because he is a special thing, a special type of politician, and a special case.
Lots of disturbing stuff came from Antonio's legal team, so please read on:
Brian Currey, the mayor's attorney, says Villaraigosa believes that names of corporations and individuals who gave him tickets to more than 50 events do not need to be explained to the public, because his mere attendance is his official work.
Currey says they do not know who gave the mayor many of his freebies -- implying that the mayor did indeed destroy/toss out the records.
Currey said "we believe" that when Villaraigosa snagged $3,000 seats and other gifts to Lakers events, much of that came from huge entities like AEG, NBA and "friends of the mayor."
For concerts, Currey says "we believe" he took stuff from the artists and the promoters.
All we can say is Good Lord!
Under the tough Los Angeles city ethics laws, Antonio can't take more than $100 a year from anyone doing biz with the city.
Yet he doesn't KNOW who gave him these costly gifts? He took huge freebies from the McCourt family -- private and fabulous seats. The McCourts have a huge contract with the city to run the Los Angeles Marathon.
How is this legal?
And what a mess it was as the lawyer waded into Villaraigosa's unusual legal argument to explain the mayor's behavior.
Currey is positing that Villaraigosa need merely show his face, and he can then ignore anticorruption laws governing taking such freebies as event tickets, meals and so on.
As Attorney Walter Moore -- who has made a formal complaint against Villaraigosa -- predicted days ago, Villaraigosa claims he got special permission to act this way back in 2004, before he took office, when Mayor James Hahn got a legal opinion from the City Ethics Commission calling the mayor the "ambassador" for L.A.
"He [the mayor] thinks it's part of his job," Currey says, insisting, "And the Ethics Commission thinks it's part of his job, and I think that most people in L.A. think it's part of his job."
Past Los Angeles mayors, in fact, have not shared his view. Is this really what those folks at the Ethics Commission had in mind?
Hahn and Richard Riordan paid for their tickets except for unusual occasions, and largely stayed away from sports events -- where politicians are rarely welcome and often get booed unless they are tossing out the ball.
In fact, Villaraigosa has been booed.
Yet Currey says the mayor's face alone at an event "bring tourism to Los Angeles."
How does that work, exactly?
Currey spun the mayor's freebies to sports functions as almost a moral need: "If the mayor can't root for his home team, then there's something wrong."
Doesn't Antonio have a high def TV and a favorite sports bar?
Currey also claimed that somehow the mayor "brings job"s to L.A. with his behavior.
How's that again?
The city is mired in 13 percent to 14 percent unemployment under Villaraigosa, among the worst in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Weekly has found that mayor's free ticket take is worth $50,000 to $100,000 or more.
For more on the blowback to this scandal, see our must-read story, "Villaraigosa's Five-Year Free Ticket Spree."
And read our super-hot Price List of 80 Mayoral Freebies here.