LOS ANGLES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council voted today to prevent developers who have project applications pending at City Hall from making campaign donations to elected officials or candidates for municipal office, although some members expressed concern over the effectiveness of the ordinance.
City Councilman David Ryu introduced the proposal to ban developer contributions, which he said can interfere with the ethical commitments candidates make when running for office.
The changes are an effort to create an enforcement policy on developer
contributions before the 2022 general election. Fundraising for that Los
Angeles city election starts in March.
In November, the council’s Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental
Committee discussed three proposed laws for restricting developer donations.
The measure approved by the council Wednesday will bar political donations by
developers who have projects pending with the city, continuing for a full year
after a final decision is made on the project. The city will create a database
of developers who are restricted from making donations.
The council also voted to have the committee reexamine possible
restrictions on behested payments — which are donations solicited by
candidates or elected officials for various charities or causes. The city
Ethics Commission has proposed guidelines that would restrict such payments
from developers, lobbyists, lobbying firms, bidders, contractors or people who
attempted to influence the elected official in the previous 12 months.
According to the Ethics Commission, eight of the 10 donors with the
most behested payments over the past five years had done business with the city
within that period.
The behested payment ban would include several exceptions, including
payments that are solicited because of a state of emergency.
Los Angeles is the first jurisdiction in the country to ban developer
political donations, according to Ethics Commission staff.
Efforts to update the city’s campaign-finance laws began after a
November 2018 FBI search of Councilman Jose Huizar’s home and offices. He was
also named in a search warrant outlining the FBI’s probe of possible bribery,
extortion, money laundering, and other crimes as part of a corruption
investigation at City Hall focusing on huge real estate investments from
Chinese companies. No one has been arrested or charged as a result of the
City law limits contributions from non-individuals, with the charter
setting limits on such donations, adjusted annually to reflect changes in the
Consumer Price Index. The current maximum is $226,500 for City Council