JULY 25, 2006
A who’s who of elected officials and civic leaders united in Southern California to help raise thousands of dollars for the defense of a disgraced city councilman and admitted felon found guilty of serious ethics violations.
A prominent congresswoman, various city and state officials and even the chief of the city’s police commission headlined at the fundraiser–held at a fancy estate–to help convicted Los Angeles city councilman Martin Ludlow fill his defense chest.
Ludlow admitted that he knew he was breaking the law when he illegally conspired with a labor leader to funnel union money to his 2003 city council election campaign. He put campaign workers on a union’s payroll, hiding their work for him behind salaries paid out of union dues from unsuspecting school bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
You wouldn’t know Ludlow’s history of corruption by reading the defense fundraiser invitation his buddies sent out. It glamorizes him, noting that Ludlow was the first African-American to serve as secretary-treasurer of the County Federation of Labor and that he was deputy chief of staff to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when he was California Assembly speaker. The invitation also says that Ludlow “courageously dealt with tremendous legal and professional challenges”
To attend the event, one had to dish out $500 to $4,000, but that bought an elbow-rubbing evening with lawmakers such as Congresswoman Diane Watson, state Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas and Assemblywoman Karen Bass. Los Angeles Police Commission Chief John Mack, a variety of city councilmen and actor Danny Glover were also on hand.
Disgusted prosecutors said Ludlow not only is corrupt, he stole money from workers under false pretenses for his personal benefit. Ludlow’s slap-on-the-hand sentence includes probation and a $180,000 fine.
One editorial chastised the elected officials who headlined at the posh event, questioning whether politicos understand shame since being the main draws at a fundraising event to funnel money to Ludlow sends the message that election laws are no big deal. If you get caught, we understand. We’ll help you get back on your feet.
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