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3 Councilmen Broke Fund Law, Legal Group Alleges

March 06, 1986|JANET CLAYTON | Times Staff Writer

Advocates of the city's campaign contribution law have told City Atty. James K. Hahn of "apparent violations" of the law by three City Council members and warned Wednesday that they will sue the city if Hahn "does not hurry up and enforce the law."

Fred Woocher, an attorney for the Center for Law in the Public Interest, said that public campaign contribution statements show that Councilmen Gilbert Lindsay, Robert Farrell and John Ferraro have raised funds "in apparent violation" of the city law.

Lindsay, the center says, avoided the law by putting the money in a state political action committee (PAC) fund, and Ferraro and Farrell by accepting "pledges" of money before the law took effect and getting the money afterward.

"I don't see any alternative but a civil suit, if the city attorney does not hurry up and enforce the law, a law on the books," Woocher said.

Two Councilmen Dispute Charge

Farrell and a Ferraro spokeswoman disputed the public advocacy group's charge, saying that both councilmen had been told by a deputy city attorney that pledges made before July were not subject to the $500 limit.

The law, passed by voters as a Charter amendment last year, limits contributions to council members to $500, and, among other things, prohibits the use of outside fund sources such as state PACs, which raise and spend money on behalf of political candidates or causes.

Formation of a state PAC is not specifically forbidden under the law, but money raised by a PAC cannot be spent on a campaign for city office. Woocher contends that the use of PAC money by a politician to "enhance" his ability to stay in city office would be a violation of the city law.

When asked how he planned to spend the $300,000 in his PAC, Lindsay said: ". . . I'm definitely running again in 1989. I guess I can spend it for reelection, can't I? I'm going to spend it on a lot of things. I'm building my power base."

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