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Mayor to pay for campaign lapses

August 03, 2007|Duke Helfand | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agreed Thursday to pay a $5,200 fine for violating multiple campaign finance laws stemming from his 2003 race for the City Council.

Villaraigosa accepted four contributions from individuals in excess of a $500-per-person limit. His campaign also failed to file copies of 23 pieces of campaign literature with the city Ethics Commission and to send the panel scripts or recordings for a radio ad and two prerecorded phone calls.

In all, Villaraigosa violated 30 aspects of city campaign finance laws, according to a proposed agreement that he signed Thursday.

The deal must still be ratified by the Ethics Commission, which is expected to consider it Aug. 14.

Villaraigosa's campaign lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, downplayed the significance of the violations, calling them common mistakes that other campaigns have made.

"These are administrative errors, but nonetheless they should not have happened," Kaufman said. "The mayor has taken steps to make sure this does not happen again."

Ethics Commission Executive Director LeeAnn Pelham declined to comment on the proposed agreement.

Villaraigosa could have faced a maximum $150,000 in administrative penalties, but Ethics Commission staffers recommended a smaller fine based on his cooperation and the absence of what they called any "prior enforcement history."

The staff dismissed one other allegation: that the mayor exceeded by $39,000 the $150,000 limit on contributions from corporations, unions and other entities.

That violation could have cost him an additional $39,000. Kaufman said Villaraigosa was able to demonstrate that the contributions came from the personal funds of individuals.

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