Former Los Angeles Planning Director Faces $281,250 Ethics Fine, Largest of Its Kind

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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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The former head of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning is facing a $281,250 ethics fine, the largest financial penalty ever sought by the city’s Ethics Commission for a current or former city employee.

Michael LoGrande admitted to investigators that he repeatedly violated the city’s “revolving door” law, which prohibits high-level officials from lobbying elected officials, managers and other decision-makers during their first 12 months after leaving city employment, according to a report prepared by the enforcement arm of the City Ethics Commission.

LoGrande left his government job in January 2016 after spending more than five years running the department, which reviews real estate development projects across the city. Within a few months, he was lobbying planning department officials on behalf of the clients he had picked up while operating his new land-use consulting business, LoGrande and Co., the report said.

One of those clients was Soho House & Co., which was seeking to redevelop an industrial building in the Arts District into a private club. LoGrande, who received $70,000 to influence city officials on that project, contacted planning department staff in May 2016 about making sure that Soho House would not need a zone change from the city, according to ethics officials.

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