Les Moonves Ethics Commission Fine: Los Angeles Approves Deal

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission has approved a $15,000 settlement by the city with Les Moonves, the former president and CEO of CBS who conspired with a now-retired LAPD captain to prevent an explosive sexual assault allegation from going public.

The settlement, passed on Wednesday, represents the maximum amount Moonves could’ve been charged in an administrative enforcement matter. In considering the penalty, the commission said that he cooperated with staff in the investigation and saved resources by agreeing to the deal while also noting that the “violations in this case are extremely serious” and “deliberate.”

Moonves “admits that he violated City law by aiding and abetting the disclosure and misuse of confidential information and by inducing a City official to misuse his position to attempt to create a private advantage” for the executive, the settlement read.

Approval of the deal follows the commission in February unanimously voting to reject the proposed agreement. He initially agreed to pay an $11,250 fine. Committee president Jeffery Daar said at the time that the rejection of the settlement was based on the “egregiousness of the alleged facts,” stressing that the case underscores the need to “increase maximum monetary penalties for violations of City ethics laws.”

The settlement centered on findings that Moonves tried influencing ex-LAPD Captain Cory Palka into giving him confidential information on a sexual assault investigation into him initiated by late TV executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, who worked alongside the former CBS chief executive when they worked at Lorimar-Telepictures in the 1980s. Over the course of a year, Palka and an intermediary for Moonves communicated several times on the investigation’s progress, at one point discussing how to “kill media from PD” and to “figure what [Golden-Gottlieb] wants.”

In 2018, Moonves resigned from CBS. Upon hearing the news, Palka, who had served as his security at the Grammy Awards from 2008 to 2014, told him “I’m deeply sorry this happened. I will always stand with, by and pledge my allegiance to you,” the proposed settlement stated.

Moonves was charged with three counts related to asking Palka, through former CBS senior vp talent relations and special events Ian Metrose, about LAPD’s investigation into Golden-Gottlieb’s allegations.

The Ethics Commission still has to decide on a fine for Metrose. During the February meeting in which the initial settlement by the city with Moonves was rejected, the Ethics Commission also voted down a proposed $2,500 fine against the former CBS executive.

Attorneys for Moonves didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The allegations against Moonves and his interference in the sexual assault probe were first disclosed in a 2022 settlement between the New York Attorney General and Paramount Global. The $30.5 million deal was announced alongside an investigation that also found that ex-CBS communications chief Gil Schwartz sold millions of dollars worth of stock before the sexual assault claims went public.

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