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Council Measure Would Ban Lobbying by Officials

October 25, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Two City Council members sought Friday to revive a proposal that would prohibit Los Angeles city commissioners from political fund-raising and lobbying, citing the damage such activity could do to the public's perception of government leaders.

Measures that would prohibit city commissioners from soliciting political contributions and lobbying were recommended in 1996 by the city Ethics Commission but were never enacted by the City Council.

Council members Bernard C. Parks and Cindy Miscikowski said those measures should be reconsidered as part of the development of a code of conduct for the city's 320 commissioners and board members.

"The participation of members of city boards and commissions in political fund-raising for city officials clearly undermines public confidence in the city," Parks said in a motion he submitted to the council for consideration.

Miscikowski seconded the motion, which asked the city Ethics Commission to "consider prohibiting the direct or indirect participation" of commissioners in "political campaign fund-raising for city officials and from lobbying city officials while serving on a city board or commission."

Parks said he is particularly concerned about a perception that city commissioners have solicited political contributions from companies with contract proposals pending before their commissions.

The former police chief did not identify any commissioners by name, but said the activity is widespread enough to warrant action.

"It is widely perceived in the contracting community that awards of contracts, bids and procurements will be based on political considerations, including campaign contributions, rather than professional merit," Parks said.

He cited reports by The Times in recent months that political fund-raisers had been held for Mayor James K. Hahn's reelection campaign by political appointees, including Planning Commissioner Mitchell Menzer.

Airport Commission President Ted Stein will hold a $1,000-per-person fund-raiser for Hahn on Thursday, according to an invitation obtained by The Times.

Harbor Commissioner James Acevedo is on the host committees for political fund-raisers for Councilmen Tony Cardenas and Greig Smith this month. The events coincide with a recommendation by the city's redevelopment commission that the council approve a $2.2-million loan to Acevedo for a housing construction project.

Shannon Murphy, a spokeswoman for Hahn, said Friday that the mayor believes there already are comprehensive state and local rules governing the ethics of commissioners.

Parks is reportedly considering a run in 2005 against Hahn, who appoints city commissioners.

But Parks denied that mayoral aspirations played a role in his proposal.

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