Mayor’s Love Life Becomes Subject of Inquiry in Clippers Arena Lawsuit

Is Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts hooking up with his campaign staffer turned lavishly paid executive assistant Melanie McDade-Dickens? Lawyers for The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which owns the L.A. Forum, want to know.

Butts has been asked about his relationship with McDade-Dickens as part of a bitter legal battle between MSG and the city over plans for the new L.A. Clippers arena. The city says it’s no one’s business but the mayor’s. But MSG says it speaks volumes about Butts’ and McDade’s credibility. And credibility is important since they’re both witnesses in the case.

So far, Butts has refused to answer, following legal advice from Louis “Skip” Miller, who represents the city. Miller called the query “harassing, inappropriate and an obvious attempt to malign good people.”

But the questions have been swirling since at least June when it was revealed that McDade had quickly become one of the highest paid members of the mayor’s administration, with her total compensation surpassing that of the city’s deputy police chief, public works and human resources directors, and finance chief.

The crux of MSG’s lawsuit is the claim that Mayor Butts and the city tricked the company into handing over the land for the Clippers’ arena by misrepresenting its intended use. Their lawsuit alleges fraud and breach of contract.

MSG’s suit isn’t the only legal challenge the city has faced over the arena. In June, the city was also sued by an affordable housing group that claims city leaders violated state law when they offered the land to the Los Angeles Clippers.