Reports in the L.A. Times and the L.A. Weekly show that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has accepted free tickets to around 80 events over the past five years, worth an estimated $50,000 at least.
Villaraigosa has reportedly accepted free tickets to concerts, award shows and sports games without reporting the vast majority of them. The L.A. Weekly estimated — using a list of events on the mayor’s public schedule — that the tickets total between $50,000 and $100,000, depending on how many tickets he got for each event.
According to the Weekly, the mayor’s office kept no documentation of how much the tickets were worth, how many he got for each event, who they came from or how much he received in related freebies like food and drink.
You can see the paper’s full list of Villaraigosa’s events here.
According to the Times, politicians are legally required to report gifts and may accept no more than $420 worth of gifts from a single source in one year. There is an exemption, however, if the elected official is conducting official business or has a ceremonial role at the event.
“The mayor attends events each year to promote Los Angeles as a world-class business, cultural and entertainment destination — including the Academy, Grammy and Emmy awards ceremonies — which is an important duty of the chief executive of the nation’s second-largest city,” a spokesman told the Times. “The mayor holds himself and his administration to the highest ethical standards.”
In one instance, the mayor’s office hastily drew up a proclamation for the mayor to present to Beyonce after the mayor’s companion tweeted that she was going to the concert.
The concert was at the Staples Center. The same day, Villaraigosa had announced that the center’s owner would not be responsible for the cost of city services associated with Michael Jackson’s memorial service held at the arena.