Roots of L.A. City Council’s leaked audio scandal can be traced back decades to city politics
The city of Los Angeles may have heard voices inside its public offices, and now its public auditors will listen to those voices as they investigate how City Hall handled millions of dollars in scandalous tax and other money.
The Public Ethics Committee, which can seek to have city officials accused of wrongdoing removed from office or fined, heard from five of the nearly 6,000 people the City Council voted to discipline before it hired outside auditors to gather more information for a full investigation of the scandal.
Public records obtained by The Times confirm that in the past decade, the council has tried to block the release of records in a widening scandal over millions of dollars in “cash-for-openings” contracts for city contracts. They show the council and the city auditor, who reported the wrongdoing to the ethics committee last year, attempted to block records requests for years while their own records sought by their inspectors were destroyed in 2006.
“All of these investigations are going to have a very important impact on the public because they are going to be full of details of what has happened,” said John Scott, a law professor and former L.A. City Councilman. “They are going to be full of detail about the money made at our expense and the way we are operating.”
Council President Herb Wesson, D-Los Angeles, said the records requests would illuminate the “full picture” of the council’s handling of the cash-for-openings scandal.
“They will show us why they did what they did, the extent of the corruption that occurred, the extent of cronyism that occurred, and the extent of the money that was lost,” Wesson said.
While his remarks were the most overt rebuke of the council as a whole, Wesson was careful to note that he had supported the council and the ethics committee as they investigated the scandal.
“I support their actions with all of my heart,” he said. “I was a Council