World

Free "American Idol," Lakers Tickets May Score Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a Record Fine

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and police Chief William Bratton, unveil a multi-agency crackdown to curb an upsurge of gang violence in central and South Los Angeles, during a news conference at the LAPD's 77th Street Station on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 in Los Angeles. The initiative will rely on the resources of the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms; the U.S. Marshals Service, and the California Highway Patrol.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and police Chief William Bratton, unveil a multi-agency crackdown to curb an upsurge of gang violence in central and South Los Angeles, during a news conference at the LAPD's 77th Street Station on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 in Los Angeles. The initiative will rely on the resources of the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms; the U.S. Marshals Service, and the California Highway Patrol. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  ((AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes))

He just had to have those American Idol and Los Angeles Lakers tickets. 

California's campaign finance watchdog on Friday recommended the largest combined fine in the agency's history — more than $40,000 — against Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for failing to report free tickets to dozens of sporting and entertainment events.

The action was published Friday by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which will consider the matter at its April 11 board meeting.

The recommendation is a result of a joint investigation by the state agency and the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. Each agency is recommending fines of roughly an equal amount — $21,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission for 21 counts for ethics violations, and $20,849 for the remaining 12 counts by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

"If approved, the proposed joint stipulation entered into by Mayor Villaraigosa and the Fair Political Practices Commission and the LA Ethics Commission would be the largest ethics fine in the history of the FPPC," said Roman Porter, the state agency's executive director.

More On This...

He said the mayor has agreed to the fine. In a statement, Villaraigosa said the violations were unintentional and that he did not consider the tickets as gifts. Rather, the mayor said he attended the events in his official capacity as mayor.

In 2010, the city commission voted to prohibit all elected officials from accepting free tickets to events if the donor has business before the city. That action came after Villaraigosa acknowledged he had accepted tickets to events such as the Academy Awards, "American Idol" finals, and Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers games.

The 21 counts of violating California's Fair Political Practices Act could have carried a maximum penalty of $105,000. But the staff recommended a lesser fine, citing Villaraigosa's "lack of prior enforcement history ... his full cooperation and candor during the investigation of this matter, and his willingness to admit liability and be held accountable for his violations."

Nevertheless, the state agency staff said the mayor should have known better than to accept the gifts, which included multiple Los Angeles Dodgers games, concerts by Aretha Franklin, Shakira and others, and award shows ranging from the Grammys to the Golden Globes.

"Villaraigosa has been in office in one capacity or another for almost 20 years. He has received ethics training regarding the rules of gift disclosure on numerous occasions over the span of his career," the staff wrote.

He also could have sought legal advice from state and local ethics commissions, the staff said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino