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Villaraigosa Lakers Controversy: Mayor Attends Lakers Game 'In Official Capacity'

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Despite the questions surrounding the legality of Mayor Villaraigosa's acceptance of Lakers play-off tickets(pictured here at a game between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on May 2), and his subsequent "voluntary contact" with ethics officials on the matter, he was in attendance at last night's against the Celtics.

Villaraigosa claimed he would be attending the game in an official capacity, as he would be meeting with NBA commissioner David Stern. By this logic, the tickets do not need to be declared gifts that would have to be reported by law. The LA Times quotes the mayor: "I am going to the Lakers game tonight," Villaraigosa said. "And I've made it very clear, as I understand the rules and regulations, it is not a reportable gift when I am in an official capacity. I will be going tonight in an official capacity."

Some are not sold on the Mayor's reasoning. LA Biz Observed's Mark Lacter rips into Villaraigosa:

So answer me this: Why exactly is it necessary for him to attend tonight's game? Is there anything in the City Charter that makes his presence necessary? If, say, he came down with the flu and had to stay home, would the game be called off? Kind of doubt it. All this "official capacity" nonsense is precisely why Villaraigosa has become so unpopular in so many circles: An insistence on clumsily defending the indefensible.

The Times also reports that if an Ethics Commission finds any wrongdoing in his acceptance of free tickets to as many as 81 other events, Villaraigosa has stated he would reimburse the donors.

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