Everything that’s wrong with the corruptocracy known as Los Angeles is contained in this L.A. Times report about the departure of Tim Leiweke as head of Anschutz Entertainment Group—and there’s little doubt, given how the details were spaced out in the 1,000-word story, that reporters David Zahniser and Kate Linthicum didn’t realize what they were telling us.

He made his mark in 1999, opening Staples Center in a moribund section of downtown. Then the L.A. Live complex, which changed the downtown skyline for the first time in a decade….

Leiweke had a flair for stagecraft and a track record of giving to charities and election campaigns.

“He created the company. He grew the company. He operated the company. And in order to do that he became a political and philanthropic force,” said real estate developer Steve Soboroff, an early supporter of Staples Center.

This is better known as buying off people—the votes of politicians and the acquiescence of others to whom he donated skin to throw in the game so that they’d have something to lose.

Although company owner and Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz is politically conservative, Leiweke forged ties with Democratic politicians, unions and environmental groups.

And he traveled to Sacramento with Maria Elena Durazo, the top official at the L.A. County Federation of Labor, to secure passage of a law that accelerated the timeline for legal challenges to its stadium plans.

Durazo said Leiweke set a new precedent for how closely developers work with labor unions. Although she once suggested he run for public office, he waved away the idea. If he changes his mind, “I would be there to support him,” she added.

Yeah, I should think she’d back him to the hilt.

In 2006, AEG was the biggest donor to a ballot measure that weakened term limits for the 15-member City Council, allowing several incumbents to stay in office an additional four years.

Two years later, the company urged business leaders to give six-figure sums to the campaign for Proposition S, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa‘s telephone tax measure. It passed….

In recent months, Leiweke was an enthusiastic booster of Proposition A, the sales tax hike that went down in defeat last week. He and AEG gave more than $127,000 to the campaign to pass the tax…

“I don’t believe there’s been a ballot initiative in Los Angeles that he has not taken a leadership role in,” said Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which also supported the sales tax hike. “He clearly understands that what is good for the community is good for AEG.”

Gee, when the head of a chamber of commerce thinks a local tax hike was “good for the community” even though customers of chamber members could easily shift their buying to neighboring cities with lower tax rates, don’t you have to wonder what’s going on?

Here’s a hint:

In 2005, [councilwoman Jan] Perry and her colleagues voted to allow AEG to keep up to $270 million in new tax revenue generated by L.A. Live’s hotels over 25 years.

When I was a kid, teachers taught the story of Boss Tweed and his ilk in order to demonstrate how much cleaner life was in modern America.  Of course, back then teachers weren’t unionized, so maybe they even believed it.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.