Thursday, April 21, 2011

LA Weekly Untangles Janice Hahn's Ek & Ek Lobbyist Connections

If Janice Hahn's congressional campaign contributions are any indication, her relationship to lobbyists and California's power brokers is a comfortable one.

According to FEC reports, over 60% of Hahn's campaign contributions came from lobbyists, PACs and corporate interests, including high-powerd Los Angeles developers Eli Broad and Rick Caruso, who donated $2,500 a piece, $10,000 from Edison International (which owns a 78.2% stake in the San Onofre nuclear power plant ) and $2,500 from the National Apartment Association PAC, an association which lobbies against rent control. NAAPAC's local affiliate, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, seems particularly proud of it's fight against "socialized housing"

But in terms of history and influence, no single lobbyist or corporate interest hold's a candle to Ek & Ek, which just donated $8,000 to the Hahn's campaign coffers.

From the LA Weekly.

John Ek has no shortage of influential friends.... Two weeks before Carmen Trutanich launched his bid for city attorney, he had a small dinner at Trani's to discuss the campaign. His two guests were Janice Hahn and John Ek.....

Sergio Carrillo used to be a staffer for Janice Hahn. He left to work for Ek & Ek. From there, he went to an Ek client, Yellow Cab. Hahn's new chief of staff, Doane Liu, came from Triple E Associates.

"The person [Hahn] goes on vacation with is John Ek's wife," says Pat Nave, a San Pedro activist who opposes the Ponte Vista development, which Ek was hired to support. "Most people know it and don't care. That's the way this town is. It's incestuous as hell."

Political contributions add another layer of influence for the Eks. Since 2004, Ek & Ek has raised $165,000 for city campaigns. When Janice Hahn ran for lieutenant governor last year, John and Esther Ek each gave the maximum $6,500. Eight Ek & Ek clients gave another $34,000. When Hahn announced her campaign for Congress earlier this year, John Ek hosted a fundraiser for her in Washington and another in downtown L.A.

But so what? Hahn, who declined to comment for this article, has previously said that such relationships don't influence her decision making.

"If I don't know by now that the public depends on me to review all of the information before me and make the best decision for the city of Los Angeles, then I shouldn't be in this job," she told the L.A. Times last fall.

She might as well have been quoting Jesse Unruh, the late Assembly speaker, who famously said, "If you can't take their money, drink their booze, eat their food, screw their women and vote against them, you don't belong here."

Of course, the key element is "voting against them." Hahn hasn't done much of that lately.

The story goes on to describe how Hahn, with Ek & Ek's guiding hand, meddled in the LAX food concessions bidding process - and helped overturn a $600 million bid with SSP America, which included local eateries such as Bertha's Soul Food and Venice's Groundworks Coffee. In the end, Ek & Ek's corporate client and current concessionaire, HMS Host, got to hold on at LAX as bids once more slowly wound their way through City Hall.

"The thing about John Ek is he was incredibly effective," says Nick Karno, owner of Groundwork Coffee, which was part of SSP's bid. "He effectively shut down the bidding process. He delayed the thing for probably a year. And they were clearing $20 million a year out of LAX. So they got their money's worth out of him, that's for sure."

You can read the whole thing here.

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