L.A. Councilmember Alarcón Raises $9,000 For Legal Fees
UPDATE: A poster earlier this month on Craigslist claiming to be a grand juror said that Alarcón would be indicited by a L.A. County criminal grand jury.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcón collected $9,000 from individual donors in the first half of this year to cover legal expenses he may incur as he defends a complaint that he has been living outside of the district he represents.
Through his communications director Becca Doten, the councilmember said he has no plans right now to spend any of those contributions.
Since January, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has been reviewing Alarcón's residency. While Alarcon has claimed residence and registered to vote in a Panorama City house located within District 7, which he represents, he may have resided in a Sun Valley home in Councilmember Paul Krekorian's District 2.
Six of Alarcón's staff members, including Doten and his chief of staff Saeed Ali, testified in front of a county grand jury on July 7. Alarcón could ultimately face a charge of voter fraud. Alarcón has said that he has been in compliance with the law.
A July 15 filing with the City's Ethics Commission shows that Alarcón created a special sub-account in his officeholder account known as a legal defense fund.
Such funds can only be created if there is an active legal issue involving the councilmember and money from that fund can only pay for legal costs and attorneys fees for that specific case, according to Ethics Commission spokeswoman Jennifer Bravo.
The maximum contribution to a legal defense fund from a single donor is $1,000 during each fiscal year.
Among the nine donors to Alarcón's legal defense fund are:
a retired dry cleaner owner and his wife from Woodland Hills,
an insurance broker and his wife from Glendale, who settled a lawsuit against the City of L.A. for $1.15 million (their son died after the motorcycle he was driving was struck by a City Office of Finance employee driving a "city vehicle"),
an electrical engineer at L.A.'s Department of Water and Power.
If Alarcón's plans work out and he does not spend any of the money he has collected, he may put the funds toward another case, return them to the donors or transfer them into the city's general fund. However, he may not transfer any money to his officeholder account, which he has previously used to pay phone bills, accountant costs and credit card bills. A separate filing by Alarcón shows $2,081 is still owed to accountant David Gould.
Bravo said councilmembers Tony Cardenas, Tom LaBonge, Bernard Parks and Dennis Zine have also created legal defense funds during their time on the council. Councilmember Jose Huizar has created three since 2006.
Alarcón, in his final term as a councilmember, appears to be mulling a run to reclaim the State Assembly seat for the 39th District, which he held for three months before deciding to run for a second stint on the City Council. Alarcón was termed out of the State Senate in 2006.
As of June 30 of last year, Alarcón had $3,900 in the bank under his “Alarcon for Assembly 2012” account. He spent $615 on Gould and $224 for “campaign literature” printing and donated $500 to Krekorian's election campaign last December. As of July 15, that leaves him with $2,563.
To reach staff reporter Paresh Dave, click here.