Monday, October 26, 2015

"Most City of Industry council members work for the city’s highest paid contractors"

Great to speak with Jason Henry for this article

Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, said the number of council members with conflicts seemed unusual, but that she would be more worried if they didn’t recuse themselves or disclose their ties.
“In a perfect world, you get invested, well-qualified people who don’t have any personal stake in the city other than wanting to do a good job, but no one lives in that perfect world,” Levinson said. “Some of this is bound to happen, but the number is particularly high in this case, and the relationship is particularly direct.”

"Merced mayor questions ethics of firm hired for HSR planning"

Nice to speak with Thaddeus Miller for this article

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said as long as all the firms were allowed the opportunity for access to the members of the council, Hatch Mott MacDonald was not given special attention.
But she noted it’s best to compare apples to apples.
“What you’d want is rewarding a contract just based on who’s qualified, not who’s had the most contact and the best relationship with council,” she said.

Read more here:

"Political nonprofit spent nearly 100 percent of funds to elect Tillis in ’14"

Great to speak with Robert Maquire for this piece. 

“If a 501(c)(4) spends on a number of different candidates,” says Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles, “then it may be easier to argue with a straight face that they are touting an agenda, not a particular candidate.”
Levinson said that groups like Carolina Rising “can rest assured in the belief that the IRS and the FEC are unlikely to take any action.”

"Sacramento County elections chief tied to group chosen to review her office"

Great to speak with Brad Branan for this one

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the Election Center should not conduct the review.
“Talk about undermining its credibility,” said Levinson, an expert in elections law and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. “You don’t want these questions of impartiality. ... It’s not the cleanest of arrangements.”

Read more here:

Friday, October 16, 2015

"Berkeley councilman profited from police chief's public home loan"

A treat to speak to Thomas Peele for this one. 

It is obvious that Capitelli "shouldn't have taken" Meehan as a client, said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola University law professor and the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission's president. "His vote ended up financially benefiting him."

"Regulators propose rules to prevent illegal coordination"

Wonderful to speak with Judy Lin of the AP for this one.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the state's proposal might simply push more of the fundraising to candidates and parties.

"California is trying to come out in front of this issue and, frankly, severely restrict the number of IEs that will be considered independent," Levinson said. "Increasingly it's a question of how and where do you want the money to flow, not whether it's going to flow."

"State Fines Fullerton Councilwoman $100 for Late Disclosure"

Great to speak with Adam Elmahrek for this piece

“A lot of times [the disclosures] are not particularly meaningful, and this is... a poster child example,” Jessica Levinson, president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, stated in the article.

"California Legislature's ballot power in court test"

Pleased to speak with Howard Mintz for this one

"It's a case of first impression," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola University law professor specializing in election law. "This shouldn't be about whether you like Citizens United. It should be about what the Legislature gets to use the ballot for."

"Lt. Gov. Newsom rolls out tough new assault weapons ban"

Great to speak with John Wildermuth for this one.  

“There’s a huge benefit to putting out a ballot initiative,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches classes in election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s a way to get out your positions and increase your visibility that isn’t subject to the same sort of campaign finance restrictions a candidate faces.”
There’s nothing illegal about blurring the line between an initiative and a would-be candidate who supports it, although it’s a way of gaming a system that treats the finances of ballot measures and office seekers very differently, Levinson said.
Newsom has always been incredibly good at political timing, she said, being out front of the same-sex marriage issue, marijuana legalization — also likely to be on the November 2016 ballot — and now gun control.
“Would he have been as involved if he wasn’t running for office? Possibly not,” Levinson said. “But is that anything nefarious? Probably not, it’s just the way politics is played.”

"In Sacramento, Limits Are Few on Revolving Door Between Government and Private Jobs"

Terrific to talk with John Myers for this one.

“This is somewhat different than just a private individual changing jobs,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles and president of the city’s ethics commission. “The revolving door is more like a swing right now, where you can run through it pretty easily.”
In other words, a former adviser to a governor can immediately lobby the Legislature.

“That’s certainly an indication that the restrictions aren’t particularly stringent,” said Loyola Law School’s Levinson.
“When it comes to the revolving door, we are drawing these lines that just allow for an enormous amount of influence-peddling to still occur,” said Loyola law professor Levinson. “Part of this is, there is no perfect law.”

"Angelenos Never Much Cared About Local Politics"

My latest op-ed is up on Zocalo Public Square.