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Alatorre's Lawyer Refuses to Divulge Some Records

April 27, 1986|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

An attorney for Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre said Saturday that he has refused to divulge a portion of the councilman's financial records that were requested as part of an investigation into possible violations of the city's campaign contribution law.

Attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. said records relating to Alatorre's recent City Council race already have been turned over to city investigators. But he said that accounts relating to Alatorre's previous campaigns for state office were irrelevant to the city probe.

"It's an inappropriate forum and I don't think we should do it," Cochran said. "We have tried to cooperate. We supplied them with everything else. This is just one portion. . . . Other documents relate to city matters. This relates to his state campaigns and that's not even their bailiwick."

A Bad Precedent

Cochran also said the request would set a bad precedent for other City Council members in case of future investigations. He said he made his position known in a letter to the staff of City Clerk Lee Martinez last week.

The probe by the city attorney's office reportedly has to do with a sum of $43,345 that Alatorre, then a state assemblyman, spent last year during a period before he was an official candidate to replace Councilman Arthur K. Snyder but after he announced his intention to run for the City Council.

The campaign contribution law passed in 1985 prohibits a council candidate from using outside sources, such as a state committee, to finance a city race. Violation, a misdemeanor, occurs if a candidate "knowingly and willfully" skirts the law.

"It is a new law, and I'm the guinea pig," Alatorre said when the investigation was revealed in February. He said he had been given "confusing advice" by various lawyers in the city attorney's office.

Conviction could make a person ineligible for office for five years, although the law does not specifically deal with the question of how to handle the case of an incumbent.

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