Beleaguered Bradley Insists There Is ‘No Crisis of Leadership’

Times Staff Writer

As his personal financial statements were forwarded to federal investigators in Washington, a beleaguered Mayor Tom Bradley insisted Thursday that there is “no crisis of leadership” in Los Angeles despite the growing controversy over his financial dealings.

Leaving an annual city Human Relations Commission luncheon at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Bradley was swarmed by two dozen well-wishers and crowed to reporters: “Did you see the reception I got upstairs?”

“There is no crisis of leadership in my Administration,” he added. Bradley’s optimism was echoed throughout the day by his aides, who are moving to try to prevent a sense of siege from overtaking the mayor.


The public show of confidence came as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Los Angeles office forwarded to its Washington office Bradley’s financial statements that show holdings in stocks and bonds involved in a federal investigation of the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Bradley’s statements of economic interest, which were referred to the SEC’s local office on Wednesday by the city attorney’s office, “were received and were forwarded on to Washington for whatever action is deemed appropriate,” according to Irving Einhorn, the SEC’s regional administrator.

In California, public officials are required to publicly disclose their holdings in annual “statements of economic interest.” Einhorn said the local SEC office “did not examine the materials” and thus reached no conclusion about the contents.

SEC Plan

On Wednesday, after the documents were forwarded, a top SEC official said they would be studied chiefly for any evidence of potential insider trading, which involves buying shares illegally on tips before a takeover announcement or other development pushes a stock’s price up. Because of the price rise, such traders potentially earn significant profits.

The Bradley economic statements drew attention because two of the transactions involved stocks that are part of a federal investigation of Drexel Burnham Lambert and its former junk bond chief, Michael Milken, a prominent Bradley supporter. Milken has been indicted on charges of racketeering, insider trading and securities fraud. He has pleaded innocent.

The Bradley documents were forwarded to Washington because SEC officials there are leading the Milken probe. SEC officials in Washington declined comment Thursday, as is their practice.


Besides the SEC probe, Bradley also faces the city attorney’s investigation into his ties with two local financial institutions, Far East National Bank and Valley Federal Savings & Loan Assn. Bradley served as a paid adviser or director for the two institutions, both of which did business with the city.

But, despite the continuing swirl of controversy, the mayor kept up his usual schedule of public events, attending a press briefing with Air Quality Management District officials in El Monte in the morning and making presentations at the Human Relations Commission’s luncheon at noon.

‘Tremendous Job’

The mayor commended the AQMD for what he called a “tremendous job” but said it will be difficult to meet the district’s goal of bringing the South Coast Air Basin into compliance with federal clean air standards by the year 2007.

“It won’t be easy,” said Bradley, who maintained a grim expression throughout the event. “Will is what is required.”

Bradley volunteered no statement beyond his opening remarks and quickly turned and left the area when reporters directed questions at assembled environmental officials.

Later, at the luncheon where Bradley handed out awards for Human Rights Week to actors Dennis Weaver and Valerie Harper, he appeared more upbeat, even making jokes in his presentations. City officials and Bradley loyalists, meanwhile, steadfastly maintained that the city’s business has not been affected by the mayor’s troubles.


Spokesman Bill Chandler said the mayor’s office was not taking any special actions--or in fact holding daily strategy sessions--to respond to the growing list of questions about Bradley’s activities.

“The city’s running as usual,” Chandler said.

And Deputy Mayor Mike Gage, who engineered a political comeback for Bradley that was markedly successful until the recent spate of news, said he personally feels the issues revolving around Bradley will “run out of steam soon.”

“And then a lot of people will lose interest, because I think they will find there’s nothing more to it,” he said.

Financial Audit

But within the city, officials were also at work probing the various facets of Bradley’s dealings. A financial audit into the Task Force on Africa/Los Angeles, a Bradley-backed project that received nearly $400,000 in city funds over the last four years, is under way, according to Barbara Friedman, a spokeswoman for the city controller’s office.

The audit, which began April 19, arose after questions were raised about spending by the task force, which did not submit detailed records of its expenditures of city money. Bradley is a longtime business partner of the group’s executive director, Juanita St. John, and members of the task force have contributed thousands of dollars to Bradley’s political campaigns. Once questions were raised about the organization’s status, Bradley withdrew his funding request for the group for the coming fiscal year.

Times staff writers Rich Connell, Frederick M. Muir and Jill Stewart contributed to this report.