City Hall lobbyists are making millions

Developers Spend Big Money on Lobbyists to Win Profitable Favors from Los Angeles Pols

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

In the first quarter of 2016, developers made up seven of the top ten companies that spent the most cash on politically connected lobbyists in Los Angeles, according to the city’s Ethics Commission. In total, development firms and other companies spent a gigantic $13.5 million on City Hall lobbyists in the first quarter.

On June 21, the Ethics Commission revealed that out of the top ten companies that spent the most money on City Hall lobbyists in the first quarter of 2016, nine of them were pursuing building projects — and seven of those nine were development firms. They include Jia Yuan USA; MREC HD Elysian Park; Trammel Crow Residential; Townscape Partners; CH Palladium; Jamison Properties; and Crossroads Associates. AEG, Clear Channel Outdoor and LAFC Sports round out the top ten.

According to an Ethics Commission press release, “During the first quarter, these clients reported total payments [to lobbyists] ranging from $118,914 to $220,660. In total, these payments represented 11.6 percent of all payments by clients for the quarter.”

In other words, spending money on high-priced, politically connected lobbyists gets results for developers and other companies at City Hall — and they reap king-sized profits once City Hall approvals are obtained.

Most hard-working citizens don’t have that kind of cash to influence L.A. politicians and bureaucrats. Then again, they shouldn’t need to. But that’s not how things work within L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system, in which developers spread around big bucks at City Hall to get major, profitable favors in return.

The top ten lobbying firms receiving the most client cash in the first quarter 0f 2016 were M Advisors; Ek & Ek; Marathon Communications; Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell; Ek & Sunkin; Kindel Gagan; Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac; Craig Lawson & Co.; Englander Knabe and Allen; and Liner.

The Ethics Commission noted:

These firms reported receiving total payments from clients ranging from $361,562 to $1,266,009 for the quarter. Together, these lobbying firms received a total of $6,449,295 from their clients, representing 47.6 percent of all client payments received in the first quarter of 2016.

The Ethics Commission also pointed out that lobbyists raised $124,046 for L.A. political campaigns and committees and politicians’ “officeholder” accounts.

So one can see what any planning and land-use reform movement, like our community-based movement, is messing with here — millions of dollars in profits for developers and lobbyists and hundreds of thousands, if not more, in contributions for politicians. In fact, since 2000, the real estate industry has contributed at least $6 million to the campaign war chests of L.A. pols.

No wonder the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative scares the heck out of L.A. City Hall’s most powerful, deep-pocketed forces.

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Developers and their politician pals will do anything to defeat our movement and continue their wrong-headed policies. But together, we, the citizens, can create the change that L.A. needs!

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