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L.A. mayor, four councilmen fined for ethics violations

By Michael Martinez and Jaqueline Hurtado, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The five Los Angeles elected officials received tickets to Hollywood's hottest shows
  • Those shows included the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys
  • The show organizations were also fined by the city's ethics commission

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and four city councilmen were fined for ethics violations for receiving gifts worth more than $100 and tickets to Hollywood's hottest awards shows, the city ethics commission voted Tuesday.

Villaraigosa was fined $20,849 by the city commission. He had earlier been fined $21,000 by the state's Fair Political Practice Commission.

In a statement, Villaraigosa said his failure to report admission to 34 of the 3,000 civic events he attended between 2005 and 2010 was "unintentional." He believed the tickets weren't gifts, he said. He noted the penalties were below the maximum and that he cooperated with the investigations.

"While appreciating that the Fair Political Practices Commission and city Ethics Commission concluded this was 'unintentional' and that I acted in 'good faith,' I am fully accountable. It is my responsibility to make sure I act in strict compliance with the applicable rules," the mayor said in a statement.

"I will continue to attend these events and have taken the necessary steps to ensure full compliance in the future," he added.

Councilman Eric Garcetti was fined $4,800 for accepting tickets to the 2007 Emmy Awards and the 2007 and 2008 Oscars.

"While I paid the full cost of the awards show tickets," Garcetti said, "I messed up when it came to the dinners afterward. That's my mistake, and I'm personally paying for the cost of these three dinners now to clear it up."

The city ethics commission fined Councilman Herb Wesson $3,900 for accepting tickets to the BET Awards in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He didn't return messages from CNN.

Councilman Tony Cardenas was fined $2,500 for accepting tickets to the 2008 Emmy Awards.

Cardenas told CNN that he was a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science, and he accepted the tickets to 2008 Emmy Awards because he thought his membership in the academy justified his attendance.

"The Ethics Commission has concluded that the specific facts of this case, including lack of prior enforcement history, my full cooperation throughout this investigation and my willingness to abide by the commission's decision have resulted in a penalty below the maximum allowable fines," Cardenas said.

Councilman Jose Huizar was fined $2,100 for accepting tickets to the 2007 Academy Awards.

"This infraction occurred in 2007 and was completely unintentional and resulted from a misunderstanding of the city's gift rules," said Huizar. "I take full responsibility and agree with the commission's recommendation."

The city ethics commission's vote to fine the five elected officials was unanimous. The fines totaled $13,300.

The Oscars were also fined $13,250 for giving two tickets worth $700 to the mayor for the 2007 Academy Awards and Governors Ball; two tickets worth $2,200 to the mayor for the 2008 Academy Awards and Governors Ball; a $1,100 ticket to the mayor to the 2009 Academy Awards and Governors Ball; four tickets worth $4,400 to the mayor to this year's Academy Awards and Governors Ball; and two tickets worth $2,200 to Huizar to attend the 2007 Academy Awards and Governors Ball.

The city ethics commission also fined the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. -- the Grammys -- $8,300 for giving the mayor two Grammy tickets worth $2,400 in 2008, one ticket worth $1,400 in 2009 and four tickets worth $4,800 this year.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was fined $7,900 for giving two tickets worth $2,500 to Garcetti for the 2007 Emmy Awards and Governors Ball at Shrine Auditorium. The fine was also for giving the mayor two tickets worth $1,200 for the 2007 Emmy Awards, a $600 ticket for the 2008 Emmy Awards and two tickets worth $2,600 to the 2009 Emmys and Governors Ball.

The Black Entertainment Television Networks was fined $3,900 for giving four tickets worth $1,400 to Wesson for the 2007 BET Awards, four tickets worth $1,400 to Wesson for the 2008 BET Awards and four tickets worth $1,400 to Wesson for the 2009 BET Awards.

The commission fined Anschutz Entertainment Group $799 for giving the mayor two tickets worth $239 for a Spice Girls concert at the Staples Center in 2007, two tickets worth $160 for a Los Angeles Lakers game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center in 2008 and six tickets worth $600 for the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theater in 2008.

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