A former Los Angeles city planning director is set to be fined more than $281,000 by the city’s Ethic Commission Tuesday for doing prohibited consulting work for developers shortly after leaving his city position.
Michael LoGrande, who was employed by the city for about 16 years and served five years as director of planning, left the city in 2016 to start his own consulting firm, LoGrande and Company, LLC.
According to the Ethics Commission documents, the city’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance prohibits people who held “high-level” positions from receiving compensation for work that could influence city action or appear to influence city actions for at least one year after their departure from the city. These are known as “revolving door” laws.
The Ethic Commission documents stated that LoGrande was involved with consultation for a Soho House & Co. project and received $70,000, during which he directly contacted Planning Department staff. LoGrande was also involved with a development in which he was paid $30,000, and he was paid thousands of dollars in at least two other projects, all of which took place less than a year of him leaving the city.
According to the Ethics Commission, he was given notice about revolving door laws at least twice near the time he resigned from the city, and LoGrande did not contact Ethics Commission officials before doing the consulting work.
Calls to the attorney representing LoGrande were not immediately returned; however, he did give a statement to the Los Angeles Times last week.
“Mr. LoGrande has spent more than two decades working on the most complex projects in Los Angeles, and is pleased to have this matter behind him. He looks forward to continuing to work on economic development projects throughout the region,” Bradley Hertz, the attorney for LoGrande, told the Times in an email.
The maximum penalty LoGrande could have faced was $357,000, but because he cooperated with the city’s investigation, the Ethics Commission agreed to lower the amount. The fine must be approved by all five of the Ethics Commissioners, who could alter the final amount during the meeting, and if it is approved LoGrande will have to pay the $281,250 in monthly installments of about $23,000.
If the Ethics Commission approves the fine, it could be the largest penalty imposed on a former city official since 2006, when former City Councilman Martin Ludlow agreed to pay $105,271 from violating campaign finance laws, according to the Los Angeles Times.