LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council moved forward on an ordinance Wednesday which would ban candidates running for city elected office from receiving political campaign contributions from real estate developers.
If approved, it would be the first such ban on property developer donations by any jurisdiction in the nation, according to the L.A. City Ethics Commission, which unanimously backed the ban, along with the Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
The council voted 14-0 to ask that three ordinances be drafted by the City Attorney’s Office: one is based on Ethics Commission recommendations one is based on a City Council motion with slight differences, and a third proposed ordinance would focus on behested payments.
If any are adopted, they would become effective after the 2020 election. Several council members raised questions during the meeting about the
definitions of developers and behested payments that would be affected by the ordinances.
“The City of Los Angeles has enacted a robust set of laws designed to prevent any perception that the official actions of elected officials are influenced by campaign contributions,” the motion states. “These laws include outright prohibitions on campaign contributions from registered lobbyists, restrictions on contributions by businesses that are contracting (or seeking to contract) with the City, and prohibitions on solicitations of contributions from City employees and commissioners. However, no such comparable regulations exist for developers seeking City approvals for potentially lucrative projects.”
The motion, which is cosponsored by six council members, was introduced back in January following FBI raids on the home and office of longtime Councilman Jose Huizar.
In November, the FBI raided Huizar’s office as part of its investigation into possible bribery, extortion and money laundering at L.A. City Hall focusing on huge real estate investments from Chinese companies.
No arrests have been made in connection with the raid. Since 2005, Huizar has represented District 14, which is mostly made up by the Boyle Heights area. He is prevented from running again due to term limits when his current term expires in 2020.
Under the guidelines recommended by the Ethics Commission, property developers needing discretionary approval from the city would be restricted from making political contributions from the date the application for the property is filed until 12 months following the final resolution of the application.
The proposed changes would also include a ban on political donations from non-individuals and on “behested” payments made to a charity or government program at the request of an elected official. Non-individual can include groups such as labor unions and corporations.
City law currently limits contributions from non-individuals to $226,500 for City Council candidates.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)