LAUSD alleges money panel of mayor a ‘sham’

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’“It’s a sham ballot measure committee,” said attorney Fredric D. Woocher, who represents the coalition that filed the complaint. “(The public) doesn’t want their elected officials receiving $500,000 from individuals with business before the city. (The public) doesn’t want you to be beholden to these people.” But attorney Stephen J. Kaufman, the treasurer of the committee, said it was formed as a “general purpose committee,” so could spend contributions on legislative efforts, as well as ballot measures. “The mayor formed the committee expressly for the purpose of promoting and supporting ballot measures and legislative efforts, and that is exactly how it has been used,” Kaufman said. “The fact that the mayor’s education reform plan ended up as legislation and not as a ballot measure doesn’t change the basic purpose for which the committee was formed.” He also contended state law allows the committee to be used for any political, legislative or governmental purpose, “and that’s exactly how this committee is being used.” Officials at the Ethics Commission declined to comment and a spokeswoman at the D.A.’s Office said they had not yet received the complaint. Nathan James, the spokesman for the mayor’s committee, said the charges are baseless. “It is an outrage that the school district would use money intended to serve the children of LAUSD to file a frivolous complaint based on a fundamental misreading of state law,” James said. Woocher said there are criminal penalties for willful violation of the law, including fines and up to three years in prison. He said the coalition wants to see the money spent on ballot measures, or the committee disbanded and the money returned to the contributors. The coalition is the same one that has filed suit challenging the legality of AB 1381. The City Council voted Wednesday to spend up to $100,000 to hire outside lawyers to help the city attorney defend Villaraigosa against the legal challenge. Opening briefs in the case are due Monday, in advance of a Dec. 15 hearing on the case. naush.boghossian@dailynews.com (818) 713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A coalition led by Los Angeles Unified has filed a complaint with city, county and state agencies, claiming Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set up a sham political committee to circumvent campaign finance laws in promoting his education-reform bill. The 34-page complaint – filed with the city’s Ethics Commission, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the state FPPC – seeks an investigation into the Mayor’s Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability. The panel collected more than $1.1 million from 10 donors – mainly prominent developers with business in the city – from February through June. The complaint says the committee was created to promote and support ballot measures, but spent only $30,000 for that purpose and an estimated $116,000 for lobbyists and other expenses related to Assembly Bill 1381, which gave Villaraigosa significant control over the school district. last_img