Former L.A. City Hall Aide Faces $37,500 Fine for Failing to Report Lobbying

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Los Angeles City Hall is seen in an undated photo. (iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Los Angeles City Hall is seen in an undated photo. (iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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A former City Hall aide faces more than $37,000 in fines for himself and his consulting company after failing to report that he was lobbying Los Angeles officials, following an inquiry by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

Gary Benjamin, a former planning deputy to City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, formed his own consulting company after he had left his city job and worked with Elizabeth Peterson Group, which is registered with the city as a lobbying firm.

His firm, Alchemy, was paid more than $209,000 for lobbying activities over a period of two years, according to an Ethics Commission report. Benjamin said he was surprised to hear that his work was seen as lobbying when investigators reached out to him earlier this year, describing most of his work as “research oriented and administrative.”

“It didn’t rise to my understanding of what lobbying was,” Benjamin said in an interview. “I don’t meet with elected officials. I don’t engage in fundraising activity.”

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