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Wednesday
Oct122011

L.A. CITY HALL: Ethics Commission, two separate money laundering cases, one involving fine of $67,000 for a Boston-based private equity firm; also, more info/details, Koreatown developer, fine of $183,750, five felony counts pending in L.A. County Superior Court....

* Daily News:  "Donor to Villaraigosa guilty of money laundering" - From the DN:

   The city Ethics Commission today found one of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's re-election campaign donors guilty of money laundering and fined him $183,750 for violating campaign finance laws.

The fine for real estate executive Alexander Hugh, the head of CIC Group, was the maximum under city law. The commission voted 4-0 to support the case presented by investigators, who found Hugh illegally made $18,000 in contributions in June 2008 under "assumed names" and exceeding the limit of $1,000.

   Hugh, a Koreatown developer, pleaded not guilty in April to five felony counts filed by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, including conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering, two counts of filing false documents, forgery and false personation. Hugh's next criminal hearing is scheduled for late November.

   The Ethics Commission said Hugh worked with longtime friend Annette Lee to have employees of her escrow firm give $1,000 to Villaraigosa's campaign. Hugh then reimbursed the employees, which is illegal, and contributed $1,000 to the campaign in his own name. Earlier, Hugh agreed not to dispute the facts of the case and waived his right to an investigation by the commission, but he declined to admit guilt.

   The year before the money laundering occurred, Hugh won approval from the City Council and Villaraigosa for a hotel project, despite a lack of support from Villaraigosa's own Planning Commission appointees. The Planning Commission was worried the hotel, which was never built, would overwhelm the neighborhood.

   The commission found Villaraigosa did not know about the money laundering. Villaraigosa told City News Service he does not plan to return the money. "I had no knowledge of what occurred," the mayor said.

   ****

   Hugh's attorney, Kenneth White, asked the commission to consider reducing the fine, based on factors such as financial hardship and Hugh agreeing not to contest the facts of the ethics investigation.

   ****

   White said Hugh contributed greatly to the Koreatown neighborhood through real estate developments that generated jobs and tax revenue. He said Hugh was likely to be adequately punished in the criminal case pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court and would not be able to afford the fine. White cited an adverse legal settlement against Hugh in an employment case, legal fees in the pending election law cases and Hugh's flagging income because of the state of the real estate industry.

   City Ethics Commission staffers were not swayed..................

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. condo investor fined for improper campaign violations" - From the LAT:

   A Boston-based private equity firm was fined $67,000 by L.A.'s city Ethics Commission on Tuesday for laundering campaign contributions during the 2009 election.

   Investigators found that between June 2008 and September 2009, Alcion Ventures reimbursed employees thousands of dollars after they wrote checks to four politicians: Councilman Jack Weiss, who was running for city attorney; Ron Galperin and Chris Essel, who both waged unsuccessful campaigns for City Council; and the office-holder account of Councilman Richard Alarcon. The reimbursements violated city law, which limits donors to $500 per candidate in council campaigns and $1,000 in citywide races.

   Had the commission imposed the maximum penalty, Alcion would have been fined $125,000. That amount was reduced because the company came forward to admit wrongdoing, cooperated with investigators and had its employees give back the money, according to the commission’s report.

   Alcion invested in a 12-story condominium project planned for Wetherly Drive and 3rd Street, according to the Ethics Commission report. That project, which has not yet been built, was a controversial issue in the 2009 race to replace Weiss...............

Tuesday
Oct112011

POLITICS (National): Win or lose in 2012, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley to leave after presidential election.... 

* Washington Post:  "Bill Daley to leave White House after 2012 election" - From the WP:

   Win or lose, he’s leaving. William Daley, the White House chief of staff, told the NBC Chicago television affiliate this week that he will leave his post after the November 2012 election. “I made a commitment to the president thru his re-election, which I’m confident he will do, and then my wife and I will return to Chicago,” Daley told the television station, which posted the interview on its web site.

   Daley took the job in the fall of 2010 when his predecessor and close friend, Rahm Emanuel, left the White House to run successfully for mayor of Chicago. Daley did not know Obama well at the time, but he left a senior position at JPMorgan Chase to take the senior White House job. Some White House officials say Daley does not particularly like it, and his comments this week seem to provide supporting evidence of that sentiment.

   Chosen in part to patch things up between Obama and the business community, Daley has instead found himself at the heart of Washington’s partisan bloodletting – and he’s not into it...........

Tuesday
Oct112011

AFTERNOON MEMOS: Resignation of Oakland police chief, "limited control, but full accountability"; lawsuit, environmental groups vs. Obama administration for scrapping stricter smog limits; CalSTRS, status, effort to raise contribution rates from the state....

***A variety of interesting items this afternoon....

* Daily News (AP):  "Groups sue Obama for scrapping stricter smog limits"

* Sacramento Bee:  "CalSTRS reported ready to seek more state funding"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts to resign" ("Oakland chief resigns as feds threaten OPD takeover")

* Los Angeles Times:  "Oakland police chief announces his resignation"

Tuesday
Oct112011

L.A. CITY HALL: City Ethics Commission, $183,750 fine against developer in connection with money laundering scheme, Villaraigosa 2009 reelection campaign, maximum penalty allowed....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. ethics commission slaps developer with maximum campaign fine" - From the LAT:

   The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on Tuesday fined a Koreatown developer $183,750 -– the maximum penalty allowed -- for his role in an alleged money laundering scheme carried out in support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s reelection campaign.

   ****

   Hugh’s lawyer had asked for leniency, saying his client had contributed to the city’s economy by building “numerous” real estate projects and had suffered financial setbacks in recent years. That request did not persuade Commissioner Valerie Vanaman, who described the case as “egregious.” “This is about as blatant a money laundering scheme as I think I’ve encountered to date,” she said.

   ****

    Hugh did not contest the allegations against him but also did not admit wrongdoing.

   Commissioner Marlene Canter asked Hugh’s attorney, Kenneth P. White, whether or not someone had asked Hugh to carry out his money-laundering activities. White refused to answer and said later that Hugh had deliberately made a choice not to seek a lower fine in exchange for “cooperating against someone else.” “I understand that may be seen by the commission as a negative factor and not a positive one, but that was his decision,” White said.

Tuesday
Oct112011

POLITICS (State, National, Local): University of California, ratification of new deal with UC's largest labor union; concerns, California's continued revenue slide; editorial, GOP assault on environmental regulations; editorial, need to remake L.A. County Sheriff's Dept.; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, recall effort to begin next month.... 

***A variety of items from across the political spectrum....

* Los Angeles Times:  "UC reaches deal with its largest labor union" - "AFSCME Local 3299 represents more than 20,000 employees. The union and university had been locked in a dispute over pension and pay raises for nearly a year."

* Sacramento Bee:  "California's continued revenue slide could trigger cuts"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "California revenues down by $705 million"

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "A GOP assault on environmental regulations" - "Republicans, though correct that environmental regulations cost money, are oblivious to the public health consequences of pollution and the economic costs of inflation."

* Washington Post (AP):  "Recall effort targeting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to begin Nov. 15"

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Remaking the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept." - "It needs a change in culture. Supervisors should establish an independent panel to do just that."