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L.A. releases security costs for Mayor Garcetti's out-of-town travel

L.A. releases security costs for Mayor Garcetti's out-of-town travel
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti arrives at a meeting with members of the Asian and Latino Coalition at the statehouse in Des Moines in April. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s security detail has racked up nearly $450,000 in travel costs since 2015 as Garcetti visited other parts of the United States and foreign countries, according to figures released by the city on Thursday.

The year-by-year totals for the mayor’s Los Angeles Police Department security detail were provided in response to a lawsuit by the Los Angeles Times, which is seeking to determine how much taxpayers have spent on the mayor’s travels.

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The security detail’s travel costs include airfare, meals, lodging, car rentals and other expenses, according to a letter sent to attorneys for The Times by Deputy City Atty. Sara Ugaz. The officers’ salaries and overtime are not included in the expense totals.

The Times went to court in July after city officials refused to turn over records for Garcetti’s out-of-state trips.

The security expenses totaled about $109,000 in 2015; $91,000 in 2016; $144,000 in 2017, and $105,000 so far this year, according to Ugaz’s letter.

Dan Laidman, an attorney representing The Times, said the newspaper continues to seek more complete records and that there are no plans to withdraw the lawsuit.

“We’re glad that the city has released this information that the L.A. Times requested many months ago,” he said Thursday night. “And it shows a significant expenditure of public funds, and it’s a start. We believe we are entitled to additional information. The request had asked for a breakdown of different types of travel and how this money was spent.”

The mayor’s trips on city business are typically paid for by taxpayers, outside groups or his officeholder account. Taxpayers do not pay for his political or campaign trips.

Garcetti is usually accompanied by LAPD officers both in Los Angeles and when he travels. The city has typically paid for the officers’ flights, hotels, rental cars and other expenses, as well as their salaries.

As the mayor seeks to bolster his national profile ahead of a possible presidential run, he has traveled frequently — including visits to six states in the last two months. Garcetti was gone from Los Angeles for nearly one-third of the days in a 12-month period in 2016-17, according to his public calendar.

Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said in September that the Democratic Midterm Victory Fund, which raises money for Democratic candidates and state parties, would cover security expenses on all future campaign-related trips.

Robb also said the fund would reimburse the Police Department for several trips that had already occurred.

The Democratic Midterm Victory Fund has reimbursed the LAPD $22,500, according to a Sept. 30 filing with the Federal Election Commission. That amount covered six trips, Robb said Thursday.

LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said Friday that there were no other reimbursements to the department for the mayor’s security costs. He added that the figures released by the city cover LAPD security for Garcetti’s family when they travel with him.

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“As the chief executive of the second-largest city in the nation, and a prominent national figure who frequently receives threats against his safety, the mayor of Los Angeles requires appropriate security to protect him and his family while traveling,” Rubenstein said.

The Times sued Los Angeles after city officials refused to turn over records detailing taxpayer costs for security on out-of-state trips, accusing the city of violating the California Public Records Act and the California Constitution.

In August 2017 and April of this year, The Times requested detailed information from the LAPD about security expenses for Garcetti and his family on their travels.

In addition to the overall costs, the newspaper sought to know the number of officers accompanying the mayor, his family or staffers on each trip; the number of hours that each officer worked during trips; and costs such as food, lodging and travel incurred by the security team.

The LAPD declined to provide the information, saying it could put the mayor and his security team in danger.

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.

6:20 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein.

This article was originally published at 8:55 p.m. Nov. 1.

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