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(Copyright. Los Cerritos Community Newspaper. All Rights Reserved. Republishing Granted With Proper Attribution).
Documents can be found at the end of this article
By Brian Hews
A six month investigation by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper (LCCN) into the official activities of Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel has shown that, in possible violation of the Los Angeles Governmental Ethics Commission Ordinance, she has spent an overwhelming majority of her official schedule for the past three years attending lavish dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and social events in an effort to advance her 2013 mayoral campaign.
Greuel is in a heated four-way campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles in the upcoming March 5th Primary Election against fellow city councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, and former Federal Prosecutor Kevin James.
LCCN released more than 640 pages of Greuel’s “official city appointment calendar” that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Those FOIA requests went unanswered for more than five months by Greuel and her office.
“We had received tips from inside her office that Gruel was campaigning on county time, so LCCN requested copies of her 2009-2012 daily calendar,” Hews said. “LCCN was able to conquer a bureaucratic maze created by the Controller’s Office that included being told more than 15 times that our request was being “gathered” by personnel in her office.”
“The process to obtain the records was extremely arduous and involved. As a public official, whose calendar is open to the public, I expected this process to be simple, and for city staff to be helpful rather than adversarial toward releasing information about a public employee, especially to a community newspaper,” Hews said. “This treatment certainly raised some red flags.”
According to the California Public Records Act (PRA) [GOVT. CODE 6250 – 6276.48] the responding agency of the government must fulfill the request for public records within approximately 24 days. Further extensions can be requested but should not go longer than three months.
“But in this case it took the Controller’s office six months and several phone calls to provide LCCN with Greuel’s calendar. That being said, whether or not the controller’s office is in compliance with the California Public Records Act is definitely a big question,” Hews said.
Upon reviewing Greuel’s calendar, LCCN discovered numerous activities dedicated to advancing her mayoral campaign. “Within the first few pages, we quickly found out why the Controller’s office was so hesitant to give us Gruel’s calendar”, said Hews. “The activities we found appear to show that she is in violation of the Los Angeles Governmental Ethics Commission Ordinance No. 172891 Section 49.5.5 (B).”
The ordinance states: “No City official or employee of an agency shall engage in campaign related activities, such as fundraising, the development of electronic or written materials, or research for a campaign or an elective office or ballot measure during the hours for which he or she is receiving pay to engage in City business; or using city facilities, equipment, supplies of other city resources.”
Several times Greuel had her city staff scheduled to attend mayoral campaign-related events after hours. Greuel even had her Controller Executive Team brief her for a mayoral debate on the Thai Community Development.
Further, on at least one occasion during regular business hours, Gruel met with people such as Rick Jacobs, a political organizer and founder of the California Courage campaign and past California chairman of Howard Dean 2004 presidential effort; Eric Bauman, Chairman of the LA County Democratic Party and Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party; Maria Elena Durazo, Chairman of the LA County Federation of Labor; Michael Bustamante of California Strategies, a political advisory firm; Michael Mand of Creative Artist Agency (a Talent Agency); John Shallman and Marty Cooper, campaign strategists; LA Grant Communications, a full service marketing, advertising, and communications firm; Donna Lucas, Lucas Public Affairs; Yashar Hedayat, known for fundraising for Hillary Clinton; Teray Stephens another local fundraiser; political consultant Lindsay Bubar; political consultant Myung Soo Seok; Douglas Herman a Democratic political strategist and direct mail specialist; Gary Belz, President of the House of Blues; Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.
Greuel even attended a wedding ceremony at the posh Terranea Resort during regular office hours.
“According to the calendar, Angelinos are paying for Wendy Greuel to run for Mayor. The names above are only a sampling. We found a majority of her time is spent fundraising, meeting for lunch, and attending parties all over town. Even more egregious is the appearance that she is using her Controller staff to advance her 2013 mayoral campaign,” said Hews.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper was the publication that broke the story about the current criminal investigation inside the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office that has resulted in the arrest of Assessor John R. Noguez, multi millionaire property tax Agent Ramin Salari, and two other members of the Assessor’s inner circle.
LCCN also sent requests to both Garcetti and Perry on Monday to obtain copies of their official calendars as well.
As we ask other elected officials in Los Angeles who are running for office to exercise transparency, let’s hope they are less resistant to transparency than Greuel,” Hews stated.
“Los Cerritos Community Newspaper is also requesting that Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey review Greuel’s calendar to see if any possible laws were violated,” Hews said.
Copies of Greuel’s calendar can be found below.
To contact Los Cerritos Community Newspaper please call (562) 407-3873 or email the author at [email protected]
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