Education

Netflix CEO donates $75,000 to LAUSD board member Ref Rodriguez's legal defense

Los Angeles Unified School Board member Ref Rodriguez attends a meeting on Aug. 22, 2017.
Los Angeles Unified School Board member Ref Rodriguez attends a meeting on Aug. 22, 2017.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, a California political megadonor with far-reaching ties to pro-charter school causes and candidates, has put up $75,000 to help pay legal bills for the defense of embattled Los Angeles Unified School Board member Ref Rodriguez.

Hastings made the contribution on Oct. 9 to a legal defense fund established by Rodriguez, who will enter a plea next week to allegations that he laundered $24,000 through straw donors into his 2015 school board election campaign.

Rodriguez signed papers establishing a legal defense fund on Sept. 18, five days after the L.A. County District Attorney's Office announced he would face felony charges for conspiracy, perjury and filing false documents.

State law allows for elected officials or candidates to form committees to raise money for their legal defense in proceedings related to either to their campaigns or their jobs as public officials. Elected officials cannot, however, use legal defense fund money to pay fines or costs associated with a legal judgement.

In Rodriguez's case, money raised through that fund can be used to defray costs related not only to his criminal case, but also for his defense in an ongoing inquiry by the L.A. City Ethics Commission related to the alleged political money laundering.

So far, Hastings' donation — first flagged on Twitter late Monday by education activist Robert D. Skeels — is the only contribution to Rodriguez's defense fund that's been publicly disclosed.

This post may be updated.