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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Ethics Panel to Examine Wachs' Use of Mailers

October 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Refusing to take the matter up themselves, Los Angeles City Council members on Tuesday called on the Ethics Commission to investigate whether colleague and mayoral candidate Joel Wachs acted improperly in spending more than $700,000 in taxpayer funds for citywide mailers.

The council, voting 11-3, asked the commission to report its findings to the city's Rules and Elections Commission.

Councilman Nate Holden has accused Wachs of misusing the city funds to gain name recognition in his quest for mayor. Holden had asked the council to take a strong stand against Wachs' actions by adopting an ordinance that would regulate mass mailings by council members.

"The council passed the buck," complained Holden, who is supporting City Atty. James Hahn for mayor.

Wachs defended the guides as an important resource for city residents. The largest booklet, which runs more than 100 pages, includes extensive listings of city services and departments. The councilman's name appears on the documents, which cost $351,920 to produce and another $349,682 to mail, for a total $701,602.

Wachs said he received permission from the city attorney's office and from the state Fair Political Practices Commission to send out the booklets.

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