Mayoral Candidate Schwartz Calls for Federal Criminal Investigation into Developer Pay-offs at LA City Hall

CORRUPTION WATCH—Candidate for LA Mayor, Mitchell Schwartz, is turning up the heat on the so-called soft corruption at City Hall issue exposed recently by the LA Times. Schwartz is calling on US Attorney for LA, Eileen M. Decker to open a criminal investigation into payments that real estate developers have been making to Mayor Eric Garcetti and to some Los Angeles Councilmembers. 

After Mr. Schwartz (photo above) recounted the revelations concerning the Sea Breeze project by developer Leung where thousands of dollars were given to campaigns and causes of Mayor Garcetti and numerous LA City Councilmembers, he noted that this problem is not new. Back in 2006, then in-coming Planning Director Gail Goldberg had warned Eric Garcetti, who was then councilmember for CD 13 at the time, not to allow developers to get the zoning they desire. Ms. Goldberg’s exact words in 2006 were, "In every city in this country, the zone on the land establishes the value of the land. In Los Angeles, that's not true. The value of the land is not based on what the zone says ... It's based on what [the] developer believes he can change the zone to. This is disastrous for the city. 

Candidate Schwartz pointed out that the US Attorney has the power to interview City Hall insiders about the ways in which developers have been getting the zone changes which they want. The big wigs can all lie to reporters, but the City Hall insiders including former field deputies as well as department heads have to cooperate with a federal investigation. We all remember what happened to Martha Stewart when she wasn’t forthright during a federal investigation. 

With the plethora of city council wannabees, only Mayoral candidate Mitchell Schwartz has thus far taken this bold step. Schwartz punctuated his announcement thusly: “If the developer and politicians were committing crimes, they must be held accountable.”


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.)