Alatorre makes it official, registering as a lobbyist

Times Staff Writers

A former Los Angeles city councilman who has worked behind the scenes to influence city officials for years submitted forms this week publicly identifying himself as a lobbyist, Ethics Commission officials said Wednesday.

Former Councilman Richard Alatorre filed the forms Tuesday, two weeks after The Times reported that he had spoken to city representatives on behalf of a dozen businesses and unions. Unlike other professional advocates, he had not registered as a lobbyist.

Alatorre has reestablished himself as a force at City Hall despite having pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion in 2001, which stemmed from his failure to report cash he had accepted as a councilman from people seeking to influence him.


On Wednesday, Alatorre did not respond to a request for comment.

But a filing submitted Tuesday to the Ethics Commission states that he has a single client: a company that develops subsidized housing in such neighborhoods as Winnetka, Chinatown and Hollywood.

An advisor to and friend of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Alatorre has become, for some critics, a symbol of weak lobbying rules at City Hall.

The city’s ethics law states that any paid advocate must register as a lobbyist if he or she has worked 30 hours over three consecutive months and made one contact with a public official on behalf of a client.

In interviews and public documents, council members, city commissioners and other decision-makers said Alatorre had spoken to them since 2004 on behalf of at least three real estate developers, three city employee associations, two bus operators, a charter school, a golf course concession, a telephone technology company, a port shipping company and a firm that displays video advertising in airports.

Only one lobbyist has been accused of failing to register in the 16-year history of the Ethics Commission.

“Unless it’s really egregious, it’s hard to make a case against somebody,” said Robert Stern, president for the Center for Government Studies, a Los Angeles group that monitors campaign finance and public disclosure laws.


On Sept. 21, a Times reporter left a letter at Alatorre’s home seeking his comment for an article about his work on behalf of clients with business at City Hall -- and the fact that he had not registered as a lobbyist with the Ethics Commission.

Alatorre’s registration form states that he qualified as a lobbyist Sept. 28.

Alatorre listed his one client as Advanced Development and Investment Inc.

One city official said last month that Alatorre spoke with her about an Advanced Development project as early as last spring -- months before he listed the company as a client.

Responding to a written request from The Times, the housing department’s assistant general manager, Yolanda Chavez, said she spoke with Alatorre last spring regarding a housing project planned for 1800 W. Temple St. in historic Filipinotown.

A company representative of Advanced Development and Investment confirmed that the firm was building the project. But he said Alatorre played no role in that development.

“That goes back before Mr. Alatorre was involved,” said John Castillo, the company’s senior manager of acquisitions and project development.

Castillo said Alatorre worked only on a project in Chinatown.

Other city officials also said they had heard from Alatorre regarding projects proposed by real estate developers.


Chief Zoning Administrator Michael LoGrande said he and Planning Department Executive Director Gail Goldberg met several weeks ago with Alatorre and other business representatives to discuss a high-rise planned for downtown.

Meanwhile, Councilman Richard Alarcon said he heard from Alatorre last summer regarding Las Lomas, a massive housing development planned just north of Sylmar.