New CEC Commissioner Michael Camuñez
The City Ethics Commission welcomed its newest member at its December 2007 meeting. On November 20, Michael Camuñez was unanimously confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council to serve a five year term on the panel. Nominated by Council President Eric Garcetti, Commissioner Camuñez will fill the vacancy created by the expiration of Commissioner Gil Garcetti’s term in June 2007.
Message from the Executive Director
Thank you for taking a look at our latest City Ethics Commission newsletter.
In recent months since our last issue, we’ve committed additional resources here at the Commission to help produce more content and materials for our outreach and educational work than ever before, and to make them more accessible and inviting. It’s our hope that this and subsequent publications will provide up-to-date and educational information so City officials and others can better understand the law and how to comply with it.
As an independent voice for more open and responsive City government, the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission acts through its voter-established mandate to preserve the public trust. Through meaningful public disclosure and effective education, the Commission is committed to supporting and equipping an informed citizenry. Dedicated to upholding the public interest, the Commission shapes, administers and enforces City ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws that ensure Los Angeles elections and government decision making are fair, transparent and accountable.
Gift Limits for City Officials:
The Not-So-Secret Santa
As the holiday season has moved into full swing, it is a time to anticipate the year ahead, reflect on the year that’s concluding, and to cheerfully share our time, our thanks, and our joy with others. For City officials and those who interact with them, however, this month’s festivities are a good opportunity to remind all about gift limits and disclosure requirements and the important role they play in keeping our governmental decision-making fair and impartial.
Gift restrictions exist to ensure that City officials and employees are, and appear to be, impartial in all matters that come before them. Limiting the amount of gifts that can be given to an official—and from whom an official can receive them—helps ensure that governmental decisions are based only on the merits, and not influenced by any perks the decision maker may have received. [MORE]
Nothing But a Smile:
Rules for Lobbyist Gift Giving
The passage of Proposition R in November 2006 significantly restricted the ability of lobbyists to give City officials gifts. In many cases, lobbyists cannot give gifts of any value.
As a reminder, a lobbyist is defined under LAMC § 48.02 as an individual who, during any three-month period:
- is compensated or is due compensation for 30 or more hours of lobbying activity;
- and, has at least one direct communication with a City official in an attempt to influence that official on behalf of a client.[MORE]
With 2008 just around the corner and the election season already underway, City officials and employees are reminded to remain politically neutral on all election issues. Of course, it is not unusual that public servants may have strong views on these issues. In fact, this is quite common. However, a City official or employee may not use his or her governmental position to influence an election campaign or the outcome of an election matter.
The laws that restrict the political activity of public servants are not intended to exclude anyone from the electoral process. Instead, such laws are in place to protect the integrity of our government by ensuring that City employees and officials always remain nonpartisan and neutral in all election matters while on City time. [MORE]
Online Campaign Literature:
2009 Election Material Now Available
Campaign literature for the 2009 election is now available online!
Proposed by the City Ethics Commission, Section 49.7.11C of the Los Angeles Municipal Code's Campaign Finance Ordinance now requires that candidates for elective City office and committees submit their campaign literature to the City Ethics Commission as follows:[MORE]
Political Money Laundering:
How to Stay Out of the Wash
Political money laundering occurs when an individual or entity reimburses another for a campaign contribution. In addition to substantial fines and possible criminal sanctions, persons who engage in such activity risk being barred from holding any City contract for four years. In short, it is a serious offense.
Imagine the following scenario:
You are a mid-level manager at a manufacturing plant downtown. One day, the owner of the company, Mr. Geoff, walks up to your desk and asks you to make a contribution to the mayoral campaign of his favorite candidate.
The Ethics Advisor:
Keeping Your Halo in the City of Angels
Dear Ethics Advisor,
Six months ago, I left my job as a Council legislative deputy to work for a consulting firm that often lobbies City agencies. Though I was not designated as a “high-level” official in my office, another person in my office, who left at the same time as me, was such an official. Is there anything I can do at my new job that he cannot?
Waiting in the Lobby