The Los Angeles Mayor’s Office has appointed a Korean American former federal prosecutor as its first-ever ethics officer. The city and Ethics Officer Ruth Kwon will work to strengthen ethics compliance among City Hall employees.
Mayor Karen Bass announced the appointment of Ruth Kwon, a former Assistant United States Attorney, as the office’s first-ever ethics officer, in a press release on November 30. The announcement promises to make Los Angeles City Hall more ethical by implementing new rules for City staff working in the Mayor’s Office.
This marks the first time in L.A.’s history that the city has created an anti-corruption officer position in the mayor’s office, separate from the City Ethics Commission, which primarily oversees public elections. The move is seen as a way for Bass, now in her second year of office, to prevent potential abuses of power.
A Yale and UC Berkeley School of Law alumna, Kwon served as an Assistant United States Attorney in California before joining the L.A. City Attorney’s Office in 2017. She has been the general counsel since April 2023. After law school, she worked for six years at the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Kwon will oversee not only the executive branch of City Hall but also commissioners and other unpaid roles, and will collaborate closely with the City Ethics Commission.
“We must move to restore trust and faith in City Hall and ensure that City Hall is working for the people of Los Angeles,” said Mayor Karen Bass. “These reforms are a good step towards those goals.”
The mayor’s office also announced that it will tighten standards for charitable giving by the Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles and the Getty House Foundation. These two foundations, carrying the mayor’s name, symbolize a commitment to clear oversight. This is an important step to ensure they operate with the highest ethical conduct.
Additionally, City Hall will enhance quarterly ethics training and strictly control the signing of support and endorsements by the mayor. Furthermore, when city officials request financial support from external organizations, they must now obtain prior approval from the secretary. In line with these measures to strengthen ethics, all city employees will sign a memorandum of compliance with the code of ethics.
BY BRIAN CHOI, JUNHAN PARK [email@example.com]