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Lobbyist Facing $11,000 Fine For Lavish Birthday Party

A lobbyist is facing a fine of more than $11,000 Tuesday for inviting Los Angeles city officials to a lavish birthday party that cost him more than $51,000.

An Ethics Commission investigation found John Ek violated the city’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance when he invited 37 city officials, including the members of the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti, to the party, which constituted a gift. The commission is scheduled to vote on the fine Tuesday.

Ek has been a registered lobbyist at City Hall since 1995. Lobbyists are not allowed to offer or give gifts of value to elected officials and are also prohibited from giving them to unelected officials if the lobbyist seeks to influence one or more decisions in their agencies.

The investigation report said Ek admitted he violated the ethics ordinance related to the party, which happened at Perch restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on May 20, 2015. Ek paid for the all costs, which topped $51,000 and included food, an open bar and entertainment.

The report found that the value\m,  of the gift improperly offered to each city official was $205.06. The report said that all city officials who attended the party reimbursed Ek for the full value of the gift after being contacted by commission staff, but did not identify the officials.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Council members Nury Martinez and Mitchell Englander attended the party and that a spokeswoman for Englander said he later reimbursed Ek, and a spokesman for Martinez said she reimbursed him without being notified by the commission staff because she knew attending the event amount to a gift.

Robert Alaniz, a spokesperson for Ek, said that “it would be totally inappropriate to comment before the commission has had an opportunity to convene and act.”

Ek has signed an agreement to pay the penalty, which is roughly half of the possible fine.

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