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Report: Special Interest Groups Paid Lobbyists Millions to Influence City Officials

A large share of the lobbying efforts were on major real estate projects, according to an Ethics Commission report.

By City News Service

Outside groups paid lobbyists almost $11.5 million in an attempt to influence Los Angeles city officials from July to September, according to an Ethics Commission report released Friday.

As expected, a large share of lobbying efforts were made on behalf of major real estate development projects, including the multi-million dollar Millennium Hollywood mixed-use development near the famed Capitol Record building, a movie museum on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a 61.5-acre housing development in San Pedro.

A group called American Progressive Bag Alliance paid lobbyists $123,031 in an unsuccessful bid to defeat the plastic bag ban, which was approved by the City Council and will go into effect Jan. 1.

Developer Millennium Partners topped the list of the biggest spenders, paying lobbyist Sheppard Mullin $572,681 during the three-month period in support of their Millennium Hollywood mixed-use project, according to the report.

Millennium Hollywood, which calls for 35- and 39-story towers on Vine Street in Hollywood, was approved in July. It is the target of at least two lawsuits, one of which claims the project site sits above an active earthquake fault.

During the same three-month period, lobbyists representing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were paid $461,798 to push the academy's planned Renzo Piano-designed movie museum inside the May Company building on the LACMA campus.

Lobbyists were paid $177,935 to get city officials to support the 61.5- acre Ponte Vista housing development in San Pedro, making the project the third most expensive lobbying effort during the July-to-September period.

Ethics officials are expected to present their latest report, prepared quarterly, at next Thursday's Ethics Commission meeting.

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