Ethics panel to probe Oakland city officials' use of event tickets

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- The city's Public Ethics Commission has launched an investigation into the use and distribution of venue tickets by city officials.

The probe will look at if any municipal laws have been violated by officials who received tickets to events at the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena and if the city's ticket policies comply with state and other local laws.

"Investigating the receipt of Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena tickets is within the Commission’s new authority provided by the Government Ethics Act, which was proposed by the Commission and passed by City Council unanimously in December 2014," said Whitney Barazoto, the commission's executive director. "The new authority and staffing enables the Commission to both investigate the distribution and receipt of tickets and review the City’s policy."

The city receives an allotment of free tickets to events at the coliseum and the arena. The tickets, worth thousands of dollars in some cases, are supposed to benefit constituents and city residents but the use of some tickets by city officials has raised questions.

If the commission finds that laws were broken, the panel could impose penalties and fines. 

News of the commission investigation came on the same day that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that interim Oakland police chief Ben Fairow was leaving the department, less than a week after he was appointed to the top post.