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L.A. ethics panel calls for tougher penalty for Moonves

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on Wednesday unanimously rejected a proposed settlement between the city and former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, accused of obstructing a police investigation into sexual assault allegations against her. He said that harsher punishment was warranted. .

Mr. Moonves agrees to pay a fine of $11,250 to resolve a City Ethics Commission complaint alleging that he encouraged a government official to violate the law to give Mr. Moonves a tactical advantage in filing a police complaint. Was.

Ethics commission staff worked with Moonves to consider the proposed fine, which still needed approval from the volunteer board that oversees the department.

Ethics Commission Chairman Jeffrey Dahl acknowledged that it was “somewhat unusual” for the commission to reject the proposed fine.

Dahl said commissioners felt the “extremely egregious nature of the allegations” warranted stronger punishment.

Each charge carried a maximum fine of $5,000, and three charges carried a fine of $15,000.

Representatives for Moonves declined to comment on Wednesday's actions.

The problem dates back to November 2017. Cory Palka allegedly began working with Moonves and other CBS executives to bury a Los Angeles Police Department complaint filed by a woman who accused Moonves of sexual assault in the 1980s.

Palka, now retired, was chief of the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood Division at the time. He had known Moonves for nearly a decade, having worked as her security guard at the Grammy Awards for several years.

Mr. Moonves' career as CBS chief collapsed amid a growing sex scandal that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement. Moonves, who resigned from CBS in September 2018, denied harassing or assaulting women.

The ethics complaint details the circumstances that led former colleague Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb to speak out on November 10, 2017, about her alleged past dealings with the then-powerful television executive.

She drove to Hollywood Station to file the complaint against Moonves. Later that night, Palka called CBS officials and she alerted them to the Golden-Gottlieb report.

Over the next several weeks, Palka, Moonves, and one of Moonves' subordinates discussed strategies to thwart Golden-Gottlieb's report and tried to prevent it from gaining traction within the police department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. That's what it means. The incident came to light in late 2022 as part of a report by New York Atty. General Letitia James.

Mr. James had accused Moonves and CBS of misleading investors about the extent of the sexual harassment revealed at CBS, information that damaged the company's stock price.

The former CBS director was accused of three violations of the City Government Ethics Ordinance, which regulates the conduct of city employees and prohibits the misuse or disclosure of confidential information obtained through the course of their duties.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Mr. Moonves agreed to pay an $11,250 settlement and admitted to violating city law by “aiding and abetting the disclosure and misuse of confidential information.”

He also admitted that he induced “a city official to abuse his position to obtain personal benefit for Moonves.”

The ethics complaint also accused Mr. Moonves of violating city ordinances by inducing Palka “to provide Mr. Moonves with personal benefit of access to confidential information obtained in the Los Angeles Police Department investigation.” .

The Ethics Commission on Wednesday also rejected a $2,500 settlement with Ian Metrose, former CBS executive vice president of talent relations and special events. Mr. Metrose admitted to aiding and abetting the disclosure or misuse of confidential information, a violation of city law.

Dahl said the case remains with the Ethics Commission's enforcement division.

The city charter sets maximum fines, but the fines have not been updated in decades. Dahl said the Ethics Commission is seeking tougher penalties.

“Today, $5,000 doesn't mean anything, especially when you have very egregious allegations,” Dahl said.

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