Los Angeles councilman announces departure day after fundraiser

A Los Angeles City Councilman raised a few eyebrows last week after announcing his departure from office the day after hosting an $800-per-person fundraiser.

Mitchell Englander, 48, who represents Los Angeles' 12 District, hosted the fundraising event Wednesday at San Antonio Winery in Lincoln Heights, The Los Angeles Times reported. The following day, the Republican said he would be stepping down from the city council by the end of the year to join a global sports firm as its new executive vice president of government affairs.

Englander's current term does not officially expire until December 2020, KNBC reported.

It looks like he’s squeezing the last drop out of donors that he can get, before he doesn’t have that kind of access to them.

— Ruth Galanter

Many were quick to point out the conspicuous timing of Englander’s departure.

“It looks like he’s squeezing the last drop out of donors that he can get before he doesn’t have that kind of access to them,” Ruth Galanter, a former city councilwoman said.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson called the move “a bait-and-switch.”

“[Englander] probably knew full well that he would not have gotten as many donations if he had announced his retirement two days before,” Levinson said.

Colin Sweeney, an Englander spokesman, would not respond to questions regarding the amount of money raised but insisted it will go towards office expenses tied to official office holder duties and community events, the Times reported. Any leftover money, Sweeney said, will go to charity. According to The Times, Englander is not required to disclose the amount raised or the names of the donors until next year.

Per city rules, $800 is the maximum amount that councilmembers can receive from individual donors. The laws mandate that the money cannot be used to support candidates or ballot measures. Englander has previously used his officeholder account to fund trips to abroad and make donations to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the San Fernando Police Advisory Council, city records cited by The Times indicated.

Sweeney said Englander had sent out a letter to donors on Friday, which offered a refund to any donor who requested one.