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Ethics Issue Puts Councilman, Father in Spotlight

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti is in trouble with city Ethics Commission auditors. But he could escape punishment if an idea by his father gets any play.

Auditors have concluded that Garcetti’s last campaign “failed to comply with state and city law” when it didn’t properly provide the Ethics Commission with copies of 19 political mailers.

The audit, released last week, also said the councilman misused a political fund by spending $623 to pay parking tickets for staffers and $4,257 for two mailings of holiday cards.

For the last two months, Gil Garcetti, the councilman’s father and president of the Ethics Commission, has urged his colleagues to stop fining elected officials for minor violations of city ethics laws. The Ethics Commission recently followed its president’s lead and refused to approve $1,650 in fines against Mike Feuer. A commission audit had found that Feuer’s 2001 city attorney campaign accepted excess campaign contributions by that amount.

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“I’m not going to vote in favor of this stipulation because when you have an amount raised of $2 million and you have it 99.98% error free, and you are talking about $1,650 ... it doesn’t feel right,” said Gil Garcetti, a former L.A. County district attorney. He has suggested that the panel consider not levying fines if the violations are minor, inadvertent and involve an amount of campaign funds below a certain low percentage of the total money raised by a candidate.

Such a rule change could affect Councilman Garcetti’s case. A representative of the councilman said the father and son have not discussed the councilman’s problems. “He has been scrupulous about avoiding conversation on ethics matters, that one included,” said Josh Kamensky, a spokesman for Eric Garcetti.

Sharon Davis Finds Political Role on Internet

It would be understandable if last year’s recall election had soured former California first lady Sharon Davis on politics. But the wife of former Gov. Gray Davis has found a new political role, this time on the Internet.

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Sharon Davis is one of the organizers of a new Web portal called sheVotes.org, which was set up to link women with organizations that can help them become politically active.

Visitors to the site can download information on registering to vote and click on links to political groups active on a wide range of issues.

Davis said the new group hopes to reach out to the 30 million American women who are eligible to vote but don’t participate in elections.

“We are looking to be a national site to help women who want to be involved politically but don’t know where to go,” she said.

County GOP Groups Get New Strings on Funding

County Republican parties around California are destined to become even more political thanks to changes in how the state party hands out get-out-the-vote money.

County parties are being asked to adopt procedures for endorsing in local, nonpartisan elections as one of several conditions for receiving state party funds for the November election.

The Orange County GOP, for example, recently decided to endorse one Republican in each race -- a move that could anger non-endorsed Republicans who would prefer the party to butt out.

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Orange County’s GOP has endorsed before in nonpartisan races, but only sparingly. The new funding strings were proposed by former state party Chairman Michael Schroeder, an Irvine attorney, as a way of encouraging party affiliation among nonpartisan officials.

Points Taken

* Among Democratic activists who attended a recent book party sponsored by the Nation, there was a fair amount of hand-wringing over U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry’s lackluster campaign for the White House. The event at the home of Arianna Huffington drew a large crowd, including Gore Vidal, Jane Fonda, Larry David, state Sen. Richard Alarcon and Pat Caddell, who was President Carter’s chief pollster. “There was a palpable concern that the campaign was slumping,” said Caddell, adding that some in the crowd were so worried that they adjourned with Huffington into her office to talk about what could be done to reinvigorate Kerry’s campaign.

* Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) will be trading late-night votes in Washington for awhile for late-night feedings closer to home. Rohrabacher and his wife, Rhonda, are the parents of triplets born April 27 at Saddleback Memorial Hospital in Orange County. Daughters Annika Brigit and Tristen Francis and son Christian August were born at 5:15 a.m. The new dad, who easily fended off a primary challenge last month from former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, said he’s “thrilled.”

* Work to solve the state budget crisis will be suspended by one group of state legislators briefly Tuesday so they can go out onto the East Lawn to cheer for their favorite amphibian in the annual State Capitol Frog Jump Jubilee. State Sen. Rico Oller (R-San Andreas) is hosting the event to draw attention to the upcoming Calaveras County Fair. Last year’s winner was a frog named No Tax Max. Although the governor has not entered a leaper, state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) has entered a frog with him in mind. The frog is named Last Amphibian Hero.

* On the TV show “The West Wing,” the characters are able to change the world with presidential powers. In real life, the actors from the show have to use other talents to make a difference, as they will tonight when they perform at a benefit for the Landmine Survivors Network at Skirball Cultural Center. The actors will perform “Raising Our Voices,” which depicts real survivor stories. Tickets are $200.

You Can Quote Me

“Because of the budget cuts these are no longer diamond-studded.”

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-- Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla on awarding a 15-year service pin to Councilman Ed Reyes.

Columnist Patt Morrison is on vacation. This week’s contributors include Jean Pasco and Richard Simon.


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