Union, City Attorney Clash Over Proposed Ban on Fundraising
Two of the city's most influential players weighed in on
opposite sides of the proposed ban on fundraising by Los
Angeles city commissioners Thursday, setting the stage for
a highly contentious debate before the City Council.
City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo announced strong support for a
ban, citing the need for city leaders to eliminate the
appearance of a "pay-to-play" atmosphere at City Hall.
But those hoping that momentum behind the proposed ban
would carry it through the City Council now will have to
contend with mounting opposition from organized labor.
On Thursday, the union that represents thousands of city
employees sent council members a strongly worded letter
opposing a ban.
"It will not eradicate the perception of a pay-to-play
system, and it will have the unintended effect of forcing
decent people out of public service," wrote Robert Hunt,
general counsel of Service Employees International Union
An ascendant organized labor movement has in recent years
helped elect a majority of the City Council and can now
boast many leaders on city boards and commissions.
Those pushing for new regulations have expressed concerns
that fundraising by city commissioners undermines public
confidence in government by giving the appearance of
conflicts of interest and by opening the door to corruption
in city contracting.
In recent weeks, the move to reform this part of local
campaign finance law has been picking up momentum with the
support of Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and recent news reports
about a grand jury investigation into contracting at Los
Angeles International Airport.
On Thursday, Delgadillo unveiled a proposed ordinance that
would ban all fundraising by commissioners, and he
suggested that anyone who violated the ban should be
prohibited from serving on a city commission for five
More than 50 boards and commissions, made up mostly of
unpaid citizens, oversee scores of city functions,
including redevelopment and the zoo. Some of those
commissioners are among the biggest fundraisers for Mayor
James K. Hahn.
The proposed ban is raising concerns in several sectors of
the city, including organized labor, whose leaders serve on
numerous commissions and also routinely raise money from
their members for political causes.
Julie Butcher, general manager of SEIU Local 347, said she
worried that the ban would do little to address problems
with city contracting and could unfairly force many union
leaders to resign their positions on city commissions.
See the article on Los Angeles Times website