Curren Price may be facing ethics violations

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Curren Price has been accused of 21 violations of city ethics laws for voting on several projects and other matters connected to his wife, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

According to The Times, the alleged violations are similar in nature to charges filed last year against the councilman by L.A. County prosecutors. The L.A. Ethics Commission notified Price of the accusations last week, the newspaper reported.

Price has not commented on the story, and the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Price has been accused of voting on projects involving developers tied to Del Richardson Price’s consulting firm, then failing to report the connections.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft by embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest, vehemently maintains his innocence and denies any wrongdoing.

A trial date has not been set. The criminal complaint also alleges that Price effectively embezzled money between 2013 and 2017 by having the city cover roughly $33,800 in medical premiums for Del Richardson, to whom he claimed to be married, although he was still married at the time to Lynn Suzette Price.

The Times said the allegations from the Ethics Commission involve “violations of conflict-of-interest laws or the council member’s failure to fully disclose economic interests” he held in relation to his wife’s business.

Nancy Jackson, spokeswoman for the Ethics Commission, said that per city law “we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a complaint or investigation.”

Price’s attorney, Michael Schafler, said he had no comment with respect to the alleged ethics violations.

Schafler previously told The Times that prosecutors failed to show that the “developers’ payments to his wife’s consulting company had any influence on his votes on those projects.”

He added that the votes cast by Price were “routine and noncontroversial on proposals that passed by large majorities.”

The Ethics Commission was established by L.A. voters in 1990 to help preserve the public trust and foster public confidence in city government and elections. The commission is required by law to administer city and state laws related to campaign financing, contracts, developers, governmental ethics and lobbying.

The violations alleged by the Ethics Commissions cover a period between 2019 and 2021, The Times reported. The Ethics Commission holds an evidentiary hearing after an accusation is publicly issued, then the five-member body makes a determination and levies penalties, if any.

Earlier this year, a judge denied Price’s bid to throw out the criminal case. Price is set to return to the court on April 25 for a hearing on a motion. The councilman is still awaiting a preliminary hearing.

Price also faces allegations from a former aide who says the councilman’s staff harassed her because she was a “snitch,” cooperating with the district attorney’s investigation. Angie Reyes English, a Hawthorne City Council member, filed a lawsuit against Price alleging she suffered “retaliation” and was ultimately fired.

Price has denied Reyes English’s allegation.

Price is not the only Los Angeles city official to fall into legal or political turmoil.

On March 27, former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan was found guilty of federal racketeering conspiracy and bribery charges for his role in a scheme to monetize the real estate approval process at City Hall. Former Councilman Jose Huizar pleaded guilty to similar charges last year.

Former Councilman Mitch Englander has also pleaded guilty to federal charges, while Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted last year of federal charges for trading votes during his time on the county Board of Supervisors in exchange for benefits provided by USC to his son.

Former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned in 2022 after being caught on tape making racial slurs in a conversation with two other council members and a county labor official, discussing the council’s redistricting process.

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