Once tasked with scrutinizing real estate development in LA, ex-city official admits illegally lobbying his former agency

Michael LoGrande, who led the Planning Department for 5 years, agreed to pay a near $300K fine

Michael LoGrande with Los Angeles City Hall (Credit: Urban Land Institute and iStock)
Michael LoGrande with Los Angeles City Hall (Credit: Urban Land Institute and iStock)

The man who had been in charge of reviewing proposed real estate developments in Los Angeles didn’t wait long before lobbying the same agency he left.

That violated law, according to the Ethics Commission, which hit Michael LoGrande with the biggest fine against a current or former city employee, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lobbying is common practice at City Hall, but not for staff who recently left. LoGrande, who led the Department of City Planning for five years, admitted to violating ethics laws and agreed to pay the $281,250 fine, according to the report.

He acknowledged he repeatedly broke the “revolving door” law, which prohibits officials from lobbying elected leaders or decision-makers during the first 12 months following their departure.

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LoGrande left his job in January 2016, and within a few months, was lobbying planning department officials on behalf of clients from his new land-use consulting firm, LoGrande and Co.

One of his clients was SoHo House, which is transforming an Arts District warehouse into a private club. LoGrande received $70,000 to influence city officials, and he contacted staff to eliminate a required zone change.

He also contacted department managers about three other developments during the period, and in one case attempted to reduce transportation fees, and in another, tried to eliminate a zone change requirement for a hotel. In February, the Ethics Commission voted in favor of a proposal to bar lobbyists or prospective city contractors who have lobbied a city official in the last year from donating to “pet charities” at the request of a city official. That is a common practice at City Hall and is central to an FBI investigation of alleged misconduct by Councilman Jose Huizar and others. Jose Huizar and others. [LAT] — Gregory Cornfield