Scrambling to react to the criminal probe of the local film permitting office, Los Angeles County officials have called for an audit of the operation and an emergency meeting of its executive board as soon as possible.
County Counsel Lloyd Pelham and CAO David Janssen also have recommended that the board of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. review the performance of EIDC prexy Cody Cluff, a step that could lead to Cluff’s ouster. Additionally, they asserted that a review of EIDC’s bylaws, policies and procedures be launched.
“In many places, EIDC’s bylaws contain unclear and potentially contradictory provisions,” they wrote.
Investigators with the L.A. County District Attorney raided the Hollywood offices of the EIDC and Cluff’s homes on Sept. 4. Court documents allege Cluff had misappropriated public funds by charging $500,000 of EIDC moneys for travel, concerts, sporting events, bars, restaurants and donations to his children’s school.
The court documents also allege misuse of $200,000 of EIDC monies through campaign contributions to a variety of local candidates, including members of the City Council and county Board of Supervisors — the members of which oversee the EIDC by sitting on its 50-seat governing board. No charges have been filed.
The EIDC has contended the spending is appropriate since it is a private public-benefit agency designed to streamline the permitting process and promote local film production. The raid was triggered after the EIDC and county investigators disagreed on access to EIDC documents.
But EIDC attorney George Newhouse pointed out that Pelham and Janssen make no assertion that the EIDC is a public agency. “We welcome the report because it squarely supports the view that this is a private entity controlled through its bylaws,” he added.
The report also noted the agreement between the county and the EIDC gives the county “full access” to any EIDC record that relates to performance of services. It also said the EIDC may have not fully complied with its own rules to provide the county an annual financial statement and operating budget, but Newhouse said the EIDC has always complied with the county’s requests for financial info.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has announced he will ask the supervisors at their meeting Tuesday to approve the Pelham-Janssen recommendations and called for a meeting of the EIDC executive committee to take place within the next few days. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the executive panel is Oct. 31.