L.A. is repealing requirements for would-be contractors to reveal NRA ties

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell had championed the ordinance that required firms seeking city contracts to disclose NRA ties. The council voted to repeal it Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles is rolling back a law that required companies seeking city contracts to reveal any ties with the National Rifle Assn., weeks after a federal judge blocked the city from enforcing those rules.

The City Council voted 12-0 without discussion Tuesday to repeal the ordinance, which was passed less than a year ago at Los Angeles City Hall. Under the law, companies that were vying for city contracts had to disclose contracts or sponsorships between them or their subsidiaries and the NRA, although the ordinance included some exemptions.

The L.A. ordinance was championed by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who said last year that it “provides transparency and allows the taxpayer to know how and where their monies are being spent.” His spokesman Tony Arranaga later added that “the disclosure has no bearing on who does or does not receive a contract with the city.”

The councilman, whose district includes parts of Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park, said the NRA has “been a roadblock to gun safety reform at every level of government now for several decades.”

The NRA responded with a lawsuit, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional and trampled on rights of free speech and association, as well as the right to equal protection under the law. Its California counsel Chuck Michel called it “modern day McCarthyism,” arguing that the city “blacklist” would pressure NRA supporters to drop their NRA affiliations.


In December, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson echoed those concerns, writing in his ruling that “even though the ordinance only forces disclosure of activity ... the clear purpose of the disclosure is to undermine the NRA’s explicitly political speech.”

The federal judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced.

Arranaga said in a statement Tuesday that the councilman was disappointed with the court ruling and “feels it is critical to combat any organization that promotes domestic proliferation of weapons of war without any regulation.”

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said he could not provide further details on why the city was repealing the ordinance, stating that it “pertains to litigation.”

NRA attorney Michel said that city officials were “trying to mitigate the consequences of their illegal misbehavior” in the face of a scheduled trial and called the repeal “another decisive victory for the NRA.”

“The same city officials who vowed to defend this ordinance are on the run,” NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Jason Ouimet said in a statement. “In addition to the NRA members they wronged, the city officials must answer to voters and taxpayers for their failed experiment, and why they recklessly subjected the city to legal and financial exposure.”

The L.A. ordinance had also drawn criticism from the Studio City Neighborhood Council, which said that although “stakeholders are concerned about gun violence, to single out an organization smacks of politics, makes little sense and could result in unwanted legal costs.” Others, however, argued that the ordinance gave important information to the public.

“We still believe that taxpayers should know where their money goes -- and if it’s going to something that they support or oppose,” said Margot Bennett, executive director of the advocacy group Women Against Gun Violence.

The NRA rules are not the first time Los Angeles has imposed such mandates on prospective contractors: Los Angeles also has disclosure rules for companies involved in building the border wall touted by President Trump, as well as firms that had historic investments in or profits from slavery.

Wilcox said that L.A. has not been sued over either of those rules.

Times staff writer Dakota Smith contributed to this report.