Villaraigosa, mayor of the nation's second-largest city, routinely attends high-ticket events in his official capacity -- often handing out proclamations -- and under state law he isn't required to report the comped tickets as gifts. But when not performing official or ceremonial functions, free tickets are considered gifts and must be reported.
Villaraigosa has asked for reviews by both a city ethics commission and the city attorney's office, even as his aides pore over his records to determine whether he may have violated the ethics codes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the laws, free tickets must be reported, including the name of the donor. Gifts are limited, depending on the donor's relationship with the city, to a maximum value of $100 to $420 per year.
The mayor has attended more than 80 entertainment events since taking office in 2005, including more than 20 concerts. Tickets to Academy Awards events alone were worth some $21,000. The Times noted that in a court-side interview at a recent Lakers game -- the team begins the NBA Finals Thursday against the Boston Celtics -- Villaraigosa said he had not paid for the seat, which can cost up to $3,100.
Free tickets become problematic because most of the sponsoring organizations and corporations do business with the city of Los Angeles.
The mayor's office said Villaraigosa had invited the ethics review after "receiving press inquiries about the mayor's attendance at various events." The office also said, "We continue to believe that the mayor has complied with all applicable laws and regulations."