Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was ordered Thursday to pay an $11,250 ethics fine for failing to include required disclaimer language on communications supporting three candidates for Los Angeles Unified School District board seats.
The fines were approved by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which found that Riordan violated rules aimed at ensuring people know who is spending money to send out campaign materials.
Riordan sent out electronic communications in 2013 expressing support for LAUSD board candidates Monica Garcia, Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez, but he neglected to include language saying those materials were not authorized by the candidates themselves and their committees, Ethics Commission investigators wrote in a report.
Riordan spent $30,000 on those messages, and sent them out to about 500,000 people, investigators said.
Riordan did disclose the independent expenditures and submitted copies of the communications to the Ethics Commission, investigators said.
Riordan has admitted to the violation and agreed to pay the $11,250, which is 75 percent of the $15,000 in possible penalties, investigators said. Each of the three violations carries a maximum penalty of $5,000.
The total fine amount is meant to “reflect the serious nature of the violations and Riordan’s prior enforcement history, while fostering cooperation with Ethics Commission investigations and the early resolution of violations,” ethics investigators said.
Riordan, who was mayor from 1993 to 2001, has a history of committing “substantially identical violations,” sending out six communications paid for by independent expenditures during city elections held in 2005, investigators said.
Riordan downplayed the severity of the penalty Thursday, telling City News Service he feels the Ethics Commission is “being petty about something that is very petty.”
He said he sent out “a bunch of emails” that had his name on it, and “clearly everybody knew it came from me, but I was supposed to have something at the bottom saying that it was paid for by me,” he said.
No one brought the issue up to him at the time, and if he had caught it, “quite obviously it wouldn’t have been a problem for me” to include the language, Riordan said.
He added that he told his staff to “pay the fine — I’ve got more important things to do.”
“The $11,000 is peanuts,” he said, compared to donations he’s made to charity that have amounted to millions of dollars. “I don’t feel sorry for myself … I live extremely well.”
— Wire reports