Last year, L.A. officials awarded four contracts worth $545,000 to Managed Career Solutions for workforce development services. Backing the company was then-Councilman Eric Garcetti, a longtime supporter.
“There is a great need to support the efforts of Managed Career Solutions Inc.,” Garcetti wrote in a motion to approve one of the contracts, which provided veterans’ services.
It turns out that the company has also been a longtime supporter of Garcetti and other officials. The company’s principals, employees and their families have contributed at least $44,000 to Garcetti’s campaigns, including his successful bid for mayor last year, campaign finance records show. That’s more than three times the nearly $13,000 those contributors have put into election campaigns for other city races.
Now, a former employee is alleging that MCS’ owner, Philip Starr, coerced employees to donate to political campaigns in an show. That’s more than three times the nearly $13,000 those contributors have put into election campaigns for other city races.
Now, a former employee is alleging that MCS’ owner, Philip Starr, coerced employees to donate to political campaigns in an effort to secure contracts, and illegally reimbursed contributions made by employees and their family members to get around contribution limits. The allegations were made in a lawsuit filed by Richard Galope, MCS’ former director of planning and development who is also former executive director of the Los Angeles City College Foundation.
Starr and his employees made contributions despite the 2011 passage of a ballot measure banning contractors from donating to city election campaigns. That appears to be due to the timing of the contracts, and because the new regulations only apply to the principals of a contractor. Starr made three contributions in 2011 and 2012, before his contracts were up for consideration, which is permitted. Still, nearly half of the known contributions related to MCS came after the new regulations went into effect.
“People can always find a way to make contributions or support candidates they want to support,” said Randy Keen, an attorney at Manatt Phelps & Phillips who reviewed the legal case for the Business Journal. “I think laws like this a lot of times don’t capture the activity they were intended to capture.”
An attorney representing Starr declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
A spokesman for Garcetti said the Mayor’s Office would look into MCS but did not provide a comment.
MCS was co-founded as MCS Rehabilitation Inc. in 1987 by Esteban Magallanes, Jeffrey Charitan and Starr, and renamed Managed Career Solutions Inc. in 2002. Starr, who holds a doctor of psychology degree, is also well-known in the local gay rights community. His mother, Adele Starr, was a prominent activist, who, following his coming out, founded the L.A. chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
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