CORRECTION: Carl Lambert’s donation to Garcetti was in June 2015 whereas the lawsuit was filed in June 2016. I’ve struck through any claims that relied on my inadvertent misreading of the relevant document and added a few words, which are underlined. We stand by our claims about the timing of Lambert’s donations to Bonin. Thanks to Gonzo Rock for pointing this out.
Carl Lambert is presently famous for two main reasons. First that Mike Feuer is suing the shit out of him because he’s a sneaky lying illegal hotel proprietor and second that he’s a vocal proponent of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District, which was approved in Council last week during a chaotic and emotional process, itself of dubious legality. Newly discovered evidence1 shows that Lambert has tried to ease his strait and narrow path through some of these thorny matters by…wait for it…giving money to politicians.
First of all, see the City Ethics Commission’s donation records for Lambert. Note that on June 24, 2015 he donated $1,400 to Eric Garcetti’s reelection campaign, which is the maximum donation allowed.
Does the date sound familiar? It ought to. It was exactly one week before, on June 17, 2015, that Mike Feuer filed a complaint against Lambert for running an illegal hotel. It goes to show that good old F. Scott was on to something when he wrote about zillionaires that “They are different from you and me.” I don’t think that most non-zillionaires, on finding out that the City Attorney has just filed a damning complaint against them, would turn around and give $1,400 to the Mayor. And it’s not just like Lambert did this all the time and the timing was coincidental. First of all, he also gave Garcetti money in 2013, when he was actually running, but he only gave him $200. Secondly, Lambert has only ever given $3,500 total to Los Angeles politicians in his life.2 This one-time, week-after-the-complaint-got-filed donation of $1,400 represents 40% of Lambert’s life-time donation total. Also note that Garcetti isn’t running for election again until 2017, so it’s not like he was actively fundraising in June of 2015. And as if that wasn’t enough, on December 8, 2015, he turned around and gave $700 to Mike Bonin, also the legal maximum. That’s 20% of Lambert’s lifetime total right there, and Bonin also isn’t running until 2017. And as I’ve demonstrated recently, this was right in the midst of a flurry of VBBID activity, when having inspired $700 worth of warm fuzzies in Bonin’s heart couldn’t have hurt anything:
- On November 23 and 24, 2015, just two weeks before Lambert paid Bonin, “staff reviewed the first draft of the Management District Plan and Engineer’s reports for the proposed Hollywood Western and second draft of the proposed Venice Beach property-based Business Improvement Districts.
- On January 7, 2016 less than a month after Lambert paid Bonin, “[s]taff met with the consultant to review the Management District Plan and Engineer’s Report for the proposed Venice Beach Business Improvement District…”
- On February 3, 2016, less than two months after Lambert paid Bonin, “…staff reviewed the 3rd draft of the Management District Plan and Engineer’s Report for the proposed Venice Beach Business Improvement District with the consultant.
Now, you might well be wondering whether our elected politicians can really be bought off for what seem like minuscule sums of money. I don’t actually know, but in fact my argument doesn’t rely on these teensy sums being enough to buy them. All that matters is that zillionaires think the money is sufficient.3
And they do. Read about this time in June when the HPOA flipped the fuck out over the idea that they might have to submit to City oversight with respect to their tree-trimming program. They got a Board motion to oppose and all kinds of crazy shit went down. But for our purposes, watch John Tronson, who is not only a known plagiarist, but is also the erstwhile president of the HPOA, kind of the Carl Lambert of Hollywood, as he explains to his fellow zillionaires as they’re all in a tizzy about this matter, that ” I’m hosting a fundraiser for Mitch on the 27th, so I’ll talk to him about it.”
So yeah, he’s a zillionaire too, and he thinks his fundraiser is going to get him some action. And you know what? He was right. Just days later in the relevant Council Committee, Mitch O’Farrell announced to the world that he wasn’t going to support exactly what the HPOA didn’t want him to support. The same dynamic very plausibly was in play with Lambert’s donation to Bonin,
and although there hasn’t been time for all to have shaken from the sieve in the case of Mike Feuer’s suit, perhaps the payoff to Garcetti will work its magic as well. The only major remaining question is whether or not Lambert will have the chutzpah to donate to Mike Feuer’s 2017 campaign. If he does, you’ll read it here first.