The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission does routine audits of candidate campaign committees. This duty stems from the Los Angeles City Charter at §702(d).1 The results of these audits are presented by the Executive Director at the Commission’s bimonthly meetings, the next one of which is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18, at 9:30 AM. Here’s a copy of the agenda if you want to participate.
And here’s a copy of Executive Director David Tristan’s report (the two audit reports are at the end). On page 17 find the audit of John Lee For City Council 2019, which ran Lee’s campaign in the 2019 special election to fill Mitchell Englander’s seat, vacated so Englander could take a job as a lobbyist.2 On page 22 find the audit results from Lee’s Runoff election committee.
City law limits each contributor to an aggregate total of $800 in contributions per Councilmember per election3 and the auditors look for violations of this. They often find a few, but they’re not locking anyone up for them. According to the Ethics Commission’s Excess Contribution Policy if the candidate “cures” the violation by returning the contribution and any associated matching funds within a specified time after being caught by the audit they don’t get in trouble for it but the illegal contributions are still reported in the audits.
Lee had a few excess contributions to cure, and they’re pretty interesting. First of all, for the first special election we see former CD7 repster Felipe Fuentes, who resigned from City Council in 2016 to take a job as a lobbyist.4 Fuentes gave $800 on February 7, 2019 and then another $350 on May 30, 2019. Obviously he knew he gave the max in February so it’s hard to see this as anything but an attempt to sneak excess money past the regulators, since there are no consequences for getting caught.
Continue reading John Lee Had To Return A Number Of Illegal 2019 Campaign Contributions — From Former CD7 Rep Felipe Fuentes — Now Some Kind Of Creepy Sacramento Lobbyist — From Brenton Tesler — Now Lee’s Chief Of Staff — Tesler Only Gives Money To Lee By The Way — $3200 Since January 2019 — (Including The $800 Returned By Lee) — And Mega-Contributor Attorney Patricia Glaser — Who Makes A Good Living Defending Rapists Like Harvey Weinstein And Has Given More Than $85K To Local Candidates Over The Years