Villaraigosa to release records specifying his duties at free events
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he would release records Friday spelling out the official duties he performed at dozens of concerts, sports events and award shows that he attended free of charge.
The mayor’s practice of going to those events without paying is the subject of an investigation by the city’s Ethics Commission and an inquiry by Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley’s Public Integrity Division. Villaraigosa has argued repeatedly that tickets to such events do not need to be disclosed as gifts under state law because he was performing official or ceremonial duties.
“We will provide the documentation to support that,” Villaraigosa told a roomful of reporters. “It’s five years’ worth of documentation. You have to go through boxes and boxes of material. I stand by the idea that this is the entertainment capital of the United States of America and, yes, I am in the job of promoting our city.”
Villaraigosa’s legal team has been searching their office’s archives over the last four weeks in an effort to verify the reason for his attendance at the free athletic and cultural events. Of the 81 events identified on his calendar, the mayor apparently paid for one — a U2 concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, according to his aides.
When The Times requested Villaraigosa’s appointment calendar for the period between 2005 and 2009, the mayor’s legal team blacked out or omitted 27 of 73 such events, on grounds that they would violate his privacy, endanger his security or didn’t serve as public records. Such redactions are frequently used when the appointment is personal, such as a doctor’s visit.
The mayor’s office has said since then that there were “inconsistencies” in the handling of his calendar. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t performing an official function,” said the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo.
When the records are released today, they will show that Villaraigosa did not attend all 80 of the events identified by his office as having appeared on his calendar, Szabo said. For example, the mayor did not go to a Beyonce concert that his girlfriend, Lu Parker, tweeted about, even though he put it in his calendar and ordered up a last-minute proclamation that was to be presented in person.
On the occasions when Villaraigosa did show up, he may not have received a physical ticket but instead was simply provided access, Szabo said. “If the mayor’s showing up at an event to perform an official duty, there’s no cost associated with it,” he said.
As one of his official duties Wednesday night, Villaraigosa attended the musical “In the Heights” at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, presenting a city proclamation to the production’s cast. The Pantages provided the ticket, a spokesperson for the mayor said.