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Mayor of the Guest List?

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Antonio Villaraigosa is caught in a scandal based on accepting free tickets to sporting and entertainment events. He says its his job representing the city to see and be seen.

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He got the most freebies from the Dodgers, according to records his lawyers are releasing to counter accusations that he violated laws about accepting gifts while getting comped to cool events. The L.A. Times sums up the scandal, as the mayor strives to

 

show that he was performing official and ceremonial duties while going to concerts, sports events and award shows over the last five years. The mayor says that distinction relieved him from having to report the tickets as gifts under state law.

 

The records include an e-mail exchange, just a few months after Villaraigosa took office, in which a lobbyist for a prominent downtown developer appears to give advice on how the mayor could cite "official" business as a way to accept the free tickets.

Villaraigosa's practice of accepting tickets is now the subject of an investigation by the city Ethics Commission and an inquiry by Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

 

The mayor got in free to around 100 concerts, games, and award show, and doesn't always remember who slipped him the tickets; he may have to dig deep and pay for the favors now, especially for tickets he passed on to others.

Jon Regardie at L.A. Downtown News has some advice for the mayor:


If you attend these events and don't pay, you need to follow the rules. You may think that rules such as having to report who gave you the tickets are stupid, but they're still the rules. AnVil thought he found a loophole by claiming he was performing important city business and thus didn't have to ID the donor. About the only way this could fly is if he persuaded Tina Turner and Juanes to oversee a chorus comprised of the City Council (I can totally picture Ed Reyes doing a solo on "Proud Mary"). Claiming that official business means presenting a pretty city certificate to celebs who could care less doesn't fool anyone.

 

Everything would be fine if Villaraigosa detailed his donors and then paid his own way to other concerts or games, and even though he has shared some sacrifice and taken a pay cut, his salary still allows him to afford some choice seats. Sure, he may not have cash like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and be able to purchase four-figure front-row tickets to every home game of the NBA Finals, but why not at least pull a man-of-the-people stunt and watch a game or two in a bar?

 

For a pair of strongly opposing views on how the scandal should play out, see Bill Boyarsky at LAObserved buying into the Mayor's excuse/explanation that he's playing a ceremonial civic role by being at all these exciting, fun events--and Ron Kaye calling for Antonio to get tossed behind bars for abusing guest list privileges, sometimes from big entertainment conglomerates such as AEG with big business to do (and influence?) with the city.

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez treated Villaraigosa to a Dodgers game--in the $12 nosebleed seats.

Image associated with this post taken by Flickr user Official Star Wars Blog. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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