I reported a couple of weeks ago that as late as two months ago, Mike Bonin aide Debbie Dyner Harris had refused to tell Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing the names of the three members of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association. Dyner Harris even sent an email to shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine asking for permission to share the names, which Devine evidently didn’t give, because Dyner Harris didn’t give up the names. Well, I’ve been asking CD11 for the names as well, and after a long three weeks, for whatever reason, Debbie Dyner Harris emailed me this morning and told me that the Board of Directors presently consists of Steve Heumann, Carl Lambert, and Mark Sokol.
Steve Heumann was not a surprise, as his name appears as agent for service of process on the POA’s registration with the State.1 But the other two are of great interest indeed. I recently wrote about how Carl Lambert’s campaign contributions to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti probably violated City campaign finance laws, but that argument wouldn’t fly if he weren’t on the Board. Since he is, I’ll be reporting him to the City Ethics Commission in the next few days.
But Mark Sokol’s case is even more fascinating. Recall that the POA has been meeting with the City about the BID at least since September 2014. Well, take a look at all of Sokol’s contributions since then. They add up to $10,750. The output of the City’s database lists each contribution separately, but here are the totals:
|Mark Sokol’s Campaign Contributions Since September 2014|
|David E. Ryu||$700|
It is shocking. I’m not going to reiterate the reasons that this is almost certainly illegal, but they’re worth reading. Later tonight I will publish a letter that I’ll be sending to the nine remaining Councilmembers2 who took Sokol’s money asking them to recuse themselves from the upcoming vote on the Venice Beach BID ordinance version 2.0.3 And all the money to Galperin? Well, the Controller is meant to audit BIDs, and they have done in the past. They mostly refuse to these days,4 but how’s Sokol supposed to know that? Or maybe it’s something else nefarious.
In any case, I’ve noted before that the City Charter, at Section 470 gives the purpose of Municipal Campaign Finance laws:
The purpose of this section is to encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be available to candidates for election to the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and imposing other campaign restrictions.
Carl Lambert’s contributions to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti were bad enough with respect to corruption or the appearance of corruption, but Mark Sokol’s more than $10,000 spent just since the BID formation process began is unconscionable. Stay tuned!
Image of Mike Bonin schmoozing with Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert in 2013 as Venice Paparazzi seems to have given it as an in-kind contribution to his campaign via sharing it on Facebook. Anyway, that’s how I’m interpreting it. If you disagree, I’m claiming fair use. If you disagree with that, come at me, bro.
- It’s a screenshot because I can’t figure out how to link directly into the search results on the Secretary of State’s search tool.
- Fare thee well, Felipe Fuentes, although honestly, I’m glad you’re gone. It’s not easy for a Los Angeles City Councilmember to stand out as especially sleazy given the competition, but Fuentes managed not only to do it, but to make it look easy.
- It’s on Tuesday, September 20. I can’t make it, and I don’t know if there’s going to be another protest, but if only five Councilmembers can vote, won’t that be interesting?
- I will be writing about this as soon as possible. Another shameful story, friends.