Council Panel OKs Tougher Penalty for Ethics Violations

People found to have violated the Ethics Commission rules on money laundering would be prohibited from doing business at City Hall for up to four years under a proposal approved Wednesday by the Rules and Elections Committee of the Los Angeles City Council.

The full council will consider the matter, sponsored by rookie Council Member Michael Feuer, within the next two weeks.

Inspired by high-profile cases involving the Los Angeles Marathon and former Councilman Arthur Snyder, the new rule would only apply to future investigations of the Ethics Commission. Those found to have laundered money would be prohibited from registering as a lobbyist or from getting any city contract or fee of more than $1,000.

While the standard period of punishment would be four years, the Ethics Commission would be able to reduce that to three years if the violator accepted responsibility by stipulating to his or her guilt or took corrective action, such as firing the employees responsible for the problem.

In addition, the new rule could be waived if there was an "overriding public policy" interest in allowing the violator to continue doing business with the city.

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