The City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission is investigating Councilman John Lee, whose 12th District includes the North Valley. He is facing accusations of violating government ethics laws by failing to report excessive gifts.
The gifts were reportedly received during a trip to Las Vegas in 2017 Lee attended with his then-boss Councilmember Mitch Englander. Lee was Englander’s Chief of Staff at the time. Englander was charged with lying to federal investigators about his alleged acceptance of excessive cash and gifts. He pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison. After Englander’s arrest Lee ran for his council seat.
A statement from the Ethics Commission stated, “In 2016 and 2017, including during a 2017 trip to Las Vegas, Lee accepted multiple gifts from a businessperson and a developer, most of which exceeded the gift limit. Lee failed to publicly disclose those gifts on the California statement of economic interests (Form 700) that he was required to file when he left city service, and he never amended the form to disclose the gifts when he ran for Council District 12 in 2019 and 2020.”
Councilman Lee responded to the allegations with the following statement: “For the last 20 months, Commission investigators have wasted critical taxpayer resources to investigate a dinner in 2016 that I do not recall attending, have drastically inflated the amount of food and beverages I consumed during a June 2017 trip in Las Vegas during my final 11 days as a City Council staff member, and lodged accusations that are completely false,” Lee said.
It is interesting to note that Jeffery Daar, President of the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission, campaigned for the 12th District Council seat in 2019 and lost the election to John Lee.