Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, engaged in a tough fight for his job in this month’s election, picked up support on Wednesday from his predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo.
In 2001, Delgadillo defeated then-Councilman Mike Feuer in a close, bitter race and served for eight years before term limits barred him from running again. Feuer is Trutanich’s opponent in the May 21 general election, which is turning out to be another contest fraught with controversy.
Each camp has accused the other of various ethics violations, and Trutanich supporters have filed a lawsuit over a contract between Feuer and his consultant, John Shallman, which called for Feuer to pay Shallman just $1 for consulting services but provides a $50,000 “win bonus” if Feuer succeeded in unseating Trutanich.
Critics of the arrangement, which has since been changed for the general election, said it hid the true cost of Feuer's campaign and enabled him to stay under the spending limit he had agreed to in exchange for public matching funds. Feuer has said the arrangement was appropriate and above-board.
Outside City Hall at a Wednesday morning news conference with Delgadillo to announce his endorsement, Trutanich handed out a document that appeared to show Feuer had exceeded the $1,259,000 spending limit and demanded that he return the matching funds, $350,000 in the primary alone.
Proponents of the lawsuit also released the document, which they said was part of an amended Feuer report indicating the campaign had spent $1,267,155 during the primary -- $8,155 over the limit. Plaintiff Laura Lake said she will ask the court to bar the Feuer campaign from spending the matching funds.
The Feuer campaign said it was looking into the matter and would have a response soon.
[Updated at 4:23 p.m.: The Feuer campaign said Wednesday afternoon that its spending total was in error because of a software glitch that did not take refunds into account and that the campaign was filing an amended statement. The correct amount for the total spent is $1,258,584.74, just under the limit, spokesman Dave Jacobson said.]
Trutanich’s attention to the campaign-spending issue threatened to overshadow his reason for calling the news conference — to tout Delgadillo’s support.
Delgadillo, now in private law practice, acknowledged that he and Trutanich have not always seen eye to eye but said the incumbent was far better qualified than Feuer to hold the post.
“We do things differently,” Trutanich said in brushing off the criticism he once leveled that the city attorney's office, under Delgadillo, needed more “professionalism.”
“Rocky was a good city attorney.... I’m proud to have his endorsement,” Trutanich said.
Calling Trutanich “independent” and “not afraid to stick up for” residents and taxpayers, Delgadillo said, “Different leaders have different priorities. I’ve not agreed with everything [Trutanich] has done” but said he nonetheless believed Trutanich was clearly the "better choice" of the two.
Feuer has the support of some other legal community leaders, including former city attorney (and later district attorney) Ira Reiner.