Arena Owner: LA City Attorney Bullied Him To Pay $6M For Policing Jackson Memorial
First Published: October 22, 2009 4:43 PM EDT Credit:
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The owner of the Staples Center arena said the city attorney bullied and threatened him in an effort to recover millions of dollars the city spent to police last summer’s Michael Jackson memorial.
The city attorney’s office countered that Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG, is a political heavyweight that’s used to getting its way and is simply upset at not getting a free ride.
“No one, no matter how much political pull you have in the city of Los Angeles, is above the law,” City Attorney Carmen Trutanich told Los Angeles radio station KNX.
The ongoing squabble came as the city struggles with a budget deficit.
“I wouldn’t say it was extortion. I would say it’s a bully tactic,” AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times in a story published Thursday.
Trutanich began an investigation into the city costs following the star-studded July 7 tribute to Jackson at the arena.
He told the City Council there were “criminal aspects” to the probe — although he later told reporters he was unsure whether any crimes had been committed.
Leiweke said Trutanich asked the company for $6 million and he offered to defray a portion of $1.3 million in costs.
“He made it very clear, either you settle or I am going to go after you guys,” Leiweke recalled. “I said, ‘Fine. I’m sorry this didn’t work out.’”
Trutanich, meanwhile, said he was just doing his job in asking AEG to pay for the deployment of more than 3,000 officers.
AEG has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local political campaigns, and its ownership of Staples and the L.A. Live entertainment complex make it one of the city’s most influential corporations.
Leiweke backed Trutanich’s opponent in an election earlier this year.
The city has a one-year deadline to sue to recover its costs.
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