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New ethics code for mayor’s staff


Restoring trust, faith in LA City Hall

Mayor Karen Bass has announced that staff in the mayor’s office will be expected to abide by new, stricter ethics rules.

“We must move to restore trust and faith in city hall and ensure that city hall is working for the people of Los Angeles,” Bass said in a statement. “These reforms are a good step towards those goals.”

In a memo released Thursday, the mayor’s office outlined policy and processes to guide her staff and help identify and avoid conflicts of interest from engaging in pursuits outside of city duties, which are called “Outside Activities.”

According to the mayor’s office, outside activities are any non-mayor’s office employment, outside income, honoraria and volunteer work.

Mayor’s staff must obtain written approval, using the proper form, before participating in an outside activity–and the policy will apply even if the staff member is not receiving monetary compensation.

Public servants identified in the city’s Conflict of Interest Code are required to submit a Form 700 or a Statement of Economic Interest to disclose any monetary or non-monetary gifts to ensure transparency and accountability.

The mayor’s office policy goes “beyond city law,” according to the memo.

Each request will be reviewed by Deputy Chief of Staff Jenny Delwood and Deputy Counsel and Ethics Officer Ruth Kwon, who assists the mayor to develop policies relating to ethics, transparency and other initiatives for her office and the city as a whole, the mayor said.

If a staff member engages in outside activity, they may be precluded from participating in any city matter involving the outside employer, the provider of the honorarium or the organization for which they volunteer.

If the source of the honorarium is a lobbyist or other restricted source, city law requires written approval from the Ethics Commission.

In early November, the mayor also adopted stricter restrictions on charitable donations from registered city lobbyists and city developers to the Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles and the Getty House Foundation.

“I thank the leadership of the Mayor’s Fund Los Angeles and Getty House Foundation for taking this important action to ensure they are operating with top ethical conduct,” Bass said. “That’s what the people of Los Angeles deserve.”