You may recall that shady downtown municipal lobbying firm Liner LLP was hired by the even shadier anonymous Delaware incorporated United Downtown LA to lobby against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and that I turned them in to the City Ethics Commission for failing to amend their disclosure forms to disclose United Downtown as a client as required by LAMC §48.07.
Well, yesterday was the filing deadline for Second Quarter disclosures, and Liner filed theirs on time. It’s required by law for lobbying firms like Liner to disclose their clients and also how much money they got paid by each client. This time they actually did list United DTLA1 and it turns out that they were paid a stunning total of $45,010.40 to lobby against the SRNC. And this is just for Q2.2 It’s likely, or at least possible, that when the Ethics Commission gets around to investigating my complaint they’ll find that Liner was paid even more in Q1.
Now, the California Public Records Act has an exceedingly useful requirement with respect to electronic records. It’s found at §6253.9(a)(1), which states:
Unless otherwise prohibited by law, any agency that has information that constitutes an identifiable public record not exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter that is in an electronic format shall make that information available in an electronic format when requested by any person and, when applicable, shall comply with the following … The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information.
Modern calendar applications almost universally use the ICS file format for their entries. So on June 28 I sent Rena Leddy an email asking her for the raw ICS file. She sent it to me yesterday, and now I’m making it available to you either as files or, as always, there’s a transcription after the break:
Anti-SRNC conference call ICS — Here it is in its native format. Depending on your computer’s configuration, clicking on this may add it to your own calendar
There are two crucial pieces of information revealed by the metadata. First of all, Estela Lopez created the event. That is, she organized the call with Rockard Delgadillo and subsequently invited Rena Leddy to join. At a minimum this fact will be useful in framing future CPRA requests.
This morning, however, I discovered that that infamous Schatzian horror show, the Central City Association of Los Angeles, was also involved in the lobbying effort against the SRNC. It’s not possible from the evidence to tell when they entered the fray, but amended registration forms filed with the City Ethics Commission prove that it was no later than April 28, 2017.1 Here’s the documentary evidence, and you’ll find more detailed descriptions along with some discussion after the break:
You will certainly, if you’ve been following the issue, recall the fact that the zillionaire-sponsored effort to subvert by any means necessary the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort was in full bloom by early 2017. And the Downtown BIDs were deeply involved in the whole mishegoss. In January, Blair “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no Brown Act compliance” Besten of the Historic Core BID, Estela Lopez of the Downtown Industrial District, and furtive hereditary downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani were meeting with their sorry little Councilboy, encouraging him to ignore both law and decency in his effort to stop the SRNC.
If you read my earlier article most of this material will be familiar to you, but there’s at least one major new thing, which only occurred to me yesterday. Recall that according to Delgadillo and Nichols, the client who was paying them to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council was a shady anonymous Delaware-incorporated LLC known as United DTLA. According to Delaware state records, United DTLA was incorporated on March 3, 2017.
This means that if and when Liner, Matthew Nichols, and Rockard Delgadillo file their required client disclosures for lobbying that they carried out after March 3, they’re going to disclose nothing more than United DTLA, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation. However, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation did not exist on February 15, 2017, on which day Matthew T. Nichols attended a Town Hall meeting about the Skid Row Neighborhood Council sponsored by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. And according to the definition of “lobbying activity” found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02, the following is included:
… attending or monitoring City meetings, hearings or other events.
So if Matthew Nichols was carrying out compensated lobbying activities on February 15 but his putative client wasn’t even conjured into existence until March 3, he’s going to have to disclose someone other than United DTLA. And what’s the chance that this other client will be anonymous? Very low, I’m guessing, since if the zillionaires already had an anonymous entity through which to hire lobbyists, why would they go and invent a new one a few weeks later? I suppose we’ll find out, although don’t hold breath, friends. The Ethics Commission moves slowly, but it certainly does move.
The Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, known to the cognoscenti as the MLO and found at Article 8 of the LAMC,1 regulates professional paid lobbyists in the City of Los Angeles.2 It also regulates so-called lobbying firms, which are companies that employ lobbyists to lobby on behalf of paying clients.3
One requirement that the MLO puts on lobbying firms and lobbyists is registration with the City.4 In particular, it is required5 that:
A lobbyist or lobbying firm shall register each client on whose behalf or from which the lobbyist or lobbying firm receives or becomes entitled to receive $250 or more in a calendar quarter for engaging in lobbying activities related to attempting to influence municipal legislation.
Note also that you might rightly wonder if the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation process counts as “municipal legislation.” It does, but the reason’s a little technical.6 Also, note that Liner LLP is a lobbying firm and they filed the required registration form for 2017, listing all their clients. And, although Rocky Delgadillo is employed by Liner, he’s not registered as a lobbyist himself. However, when he wrote his famous letter to DONE advocating against the SRNC he wrote as a Liner employee.
It’s almost certain that Liner received the negligible sum of $250 from their client, United DTLA, for their services. According to the MLO,7 then, Liner is required to disclose “The client’s name, business or residence address, and business or residence telephone number” as well as “The item or items of municipal legislation for which the firm was retained to represent the client.” But look again at Liner’s registration form. There is nothing there about their client, United DTLA.
Naturally, though, it’s possible that lobbying firms might add clients after they file their annual registrations. In this case they registered on January 1, 2017, but certainly didn’t start representing United DTLA until around February and quite possibly not until March. The law has a procedure for this kind of thing:8
Lobbyists and lobbying firms shall file amendments to their registration statements within 10 days of any change in information required to be set forth on the registration statement.
Well, just tonight it’s come to my attention that General Jeff and Katherine McNenny have discovered that Patti Berman, chief boss-lady of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, or anyway someone with access to DLANC computer accounts, evidently used City resources to campaign against the SRNC. You can watch them here explaining the proof. It boils down to the fact that DLANC used their Mailchimp account to send out email blasts, which incorporated the City logo, urging people to vote against SRNC. This is bad and creepy and probably illegal. General Jeff promises in the video to use it to challenge the outcome of the election.