Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, March 9, 2009


Page 1


New Judges Spent Liberally to Win Posts, Records Show

Loo, Whose Bid Fell Short, Reports More Than $300,000 in Expenditures




Each of the five prosecutors elected to the Los Angeles Superior Court in November spent more than $140,000 on his or her campaign, final spending reports show.

The highest spender, however, was a losing candidate, Superior Court Referee Cynthia Loo, with total expenditures of more than $342,000. Her funding came largely in the form of loans and contributions from herself; her father, attorney Thomas Loo; and technology analyst Brian Cawley, who gave a total of more than $25,000.

The campaign owed more than $163,000 as of Dec. 31. State law requires candidates whose elections have been completed to file reports every six months until all election finance activity, including repayment or forgiveness of loans, has been completed.

Her donors during the last reporting period, which began Oct. 19, included former U.S. Attorney Andrea Ordin, Superior Court Commissioner Albert Garcia, and Superior Court  Judges John Ing and Eric Taylor, who gave $100 each, attorney John Girardi, who gave $500; and Judge Zeke Zeidler, who gave $200.

Thomas Rubinson, who defeated Loo for the seat of retired Judge Wendell Mortimer—in the closest of the five contests—and now sits in Van Nuys, spent nearly $230,000. The campaign was financed largely with loans from the candidate and his family, and outstanding debts were nearly $97,000 at the end of the year.

More than $30,000 was raised in the last two weeks of the campaign, including $10,000 from attorney Thomas Girardi and his firm, Girardi & Keese. Former U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas gave $250, and Superior Court Judge William Sterling and Titus gave $100 each.

The highest spender among the winners was Hilleri G. Merritt, who spent more than $315,000. Most of her funding came in the form of loans from herself and her family, leaving the campaign more than $246,000 in debt as of Dec. 31

Merritt’s opponent, San Fernando Valley practitioner Steven A. Simons, reported raising and spending more than $205,000. Most of that came in loans from the candidate, leaving the campaign owing him more than $176,000.

Merritt had already raised and spent just shy of $300,000 prior to the final campaign reporting period, which began Oct. 19, then raised a little over $15,000 in the two weeks preceding the election. Both candidates spent the bulk of their money on slate mail and used professional campaign consultants, Cerrell Associates Inc. for Merritt and Freeman Public Relations for Simons.

Merritt won the seat last held by retired Judge Francis Gateley. Like the other winners, she took office in January; she now sits at the Metropolitan Court.

In the other November contests:

•Patrick Connolly reported spending nearly $203,000, most of it raised in the form of loans from the candidate and his family. The campaign reported outstanding debts of $152,500.

Connolly, who succeeded Judge Gibson W. Lee and now occupies a courtroom in Compton, reported raising more than $13,000 in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Donors in that period included Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J.D. Lord, who gave $100; Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Robert Mallano, who gave $100 after contributing $99 earlier in the campaign; Deputy District Attorney Mike Mallano, Robert Mallano’s son, who gave $100 after donating $550 earlier; and attorney Timothy Morris, the husband of Court of Appeal Justice Victoria Chavez, a $100 donor.

Retired Court of Appeal Justice Michael Nott donated $250 and Court of Appeal Justice Steven Suzukawa gave $200, after giving $100 earlier.

Connolly’s opponent, Superior Court Commissioner Lori Jones, reported spending nearly $135,000. The campaign reported being more than $57,000 in debt, including a $3,000 loan by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Donna Groman on which repayment is due Sept. 15.

Jones’ campaign raised more than $26,000 in the two weeks before the election. Donors included the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs Political Action Committee, which gave $1,000; Lucy M. Bagicalupo, the wife of Superior Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo, who donated $250; and Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Jesus Rodriguez, Drew Edwards, Kelvin Filer and Carol W. Elswick, Alameda Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte, Riverside Superior Court  Judge Richard T. Fields, and Superior Court Commissioners Michael Schuur and Diana Summerhayes, who donated $100 each.

Also listed were Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson, who gave $125; retired Superior Court Judge  Loren Miller Jr., who gave $500; Superior Court  Commissioner Michele Flurer, who gave $150; Sukey Garcetti, the wife of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti and mother of Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, a $250 donor; and Superior Court Judge Eric Taylor, who gave $200.

The Los Angeles County Council on Political Education, a labor group, gave $1,500.

Several prior donors gave additional funds, including Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson, whose $100 donation brought her total to $350; Superior Court Judge Patricia Titus, whose $100 contribution gave her a total of $475, and Superior Court Commissioner William Torres doubled his previous $100 contribution.

Superior Court Judge Zeke Zeidler’s $250 donation brought his total to $355, including non-monetary contributions, the campaign reported.

•Michael Jesic, who won the seat from which Judge Jack Hunt retired and now sits at the Metropolitan Court, spent just under $150,000, including $120,000 in loans by the candidate, which remained outstanding at the end of the year. He raised a little over $5,000 in the closing two weeks of the campaign, including $350 from Superior Court  Judge Dave Gelfound and $1,000 from the Geragos & Geragos law firm.

His opponent, Superior Court Commissioner Rocky L. Crabb, spent a little over $87,000 and wound up with the campaign owing him over $38,000 that he loaned the effort. He raised a little over $5,000 in the run-up to the election, including donations of $100 from Elswick and $250 from Superior Court Judge Stanford Reichert.

The Los Angeles firm of Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt & Klein gave $1,000.

•Michael O’Gara, elected to the seat of retired Judge Michael Duggan, spent more than $193,000. He now sits in Van Nuys.

He financed the campaign primarily with loans from himself, leaving the effort more than $166,000 in debt.

After loaning the campaign $70,000 in early October, he raised about $5,000 in the two weeks before Election Day. That included $1,000 from the Geragos firm and $200 from Judge Marsha Revel, who had previously given $300.

His opponent, Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack, spent far less than the other runoff contenders, a total of less than $20,000, of which a little over $1,300, including a $1,000 loan from the candidate and a $100 donation from Elswick, was raised in the last two weeks of the campaign.


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