The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is looking into a Huntington Park councilwoman's role as a political consultant in which she raised money from companies that sought to do business with the city, a spokeswoman for the D.A. said this week.
The inquiry by the district attorney's public integrity division follows a Times article published Sunday detailing how Councilwoman Karina Macias raised money for a state Assembly campaign by parlaying her connections throughout the community.
Some of the contributors were linked to companies that were awarded contracts by Macias and the council majority, including the city's bus service and dial-a-ride operator, its street sweeping and bus stop maintenance vendor and a towing company.
Macias said she raised about $25,000 for Efren Martinez's 2016 race for state assembly. She was paid nearly $6,800 in commission for her efforts, according to campaign records and financial disclosures. The commission was based on a percentage of the contributions she raised, she said.
"We are reviewing the matter," district attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales wrote in an email to the Times.
Government watchdogs said Macias' fundraising business created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
"The question is are these people really giving to the candidate or are they giving to her?" said Bob Stern, co-author of the 1974 Political Reform Act, one of the state laws that cover conflicts of interest.
Macias said she couldn't recall all the donors from whom she raised money. When asked for an example of a contribution from somebody who was not associated with a city contractor, Macias couldn't come up with one.
Macias and Martinez did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
The Times has also learned that the council appointed Martinez to the planning commission while Macias was fundraising for his campaign committees. The commission pays a $75 monthly stipend, according to the city clerk.
The revelations about Macias' fundraising have figured into the March City Council elections. Macias is running for reelection, and her political opponents have called on labor groups and some elected officials to "reconsider" their endorsements of the councilwoman.
Council candidate Laura Herrera, former Mayor Elba Guerrero, Councilman Valentin Amezquita and former Mayor Ric Loya put out a news release Sunday critical of Macias' fundraising.
"This isn't the type of leadership that Huntington Park deserves," Herrera said.
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