Tuesday, March 13, 2012
DA Candidate Trutanich Draws Heat From Print and Electronic News Media
By ROGER M. GRACE
Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich boasts the largest campaign fund of any contender for district attorney. Once a worker at the StarKist tuna cannery in San Pedro, he’s being embraced by the labor unions. And, he has name recognition.
But he’s being slammed, and hard, from all sides. I don’t recall any candidate since Richard Nixon who has evoked such negativity.
And if he winds up black and blue from all the blows he’s taking, well, he deserves it.
Trutanich promised in writing on Nov. 24, 2008, at the outset of his campaign for election in 2009 as Los Angeles city attorney, that if he were elected, he would serve out his four-year term and not seek higher office; that he would seek reelection, and if voted in again, would serve out his new four-year term and not seek higher office. If he broke that promise, he declared, he would take out newspaper ads proclaiming: “I AM A LIAR.” He’s running for higher office; he hasn’t placed the ads; he shown himself to be what he wasn’t in 2008: a typical two-bit, two-faced politician.
Yet, I don’t think that he is a “liar” based on violating his pledge. I sense that he meant it at the time. A liar is one who utters something with awareness of the falsity of what he or she is saying. In 2008, Trutanich probably would not have imagined that in three years, he would stand as proof of the truth in Lord Acton’s ditty and be corrupted.
If not a liar, he’s still a reneger. That doesn’t sit well with honest folk who, it is to be hoped, still form the majority.
For breaking his word and for many other actions since declaring his candidacy, and before then, Trutanich is under fire…and it’s bound to get hotter for him.
Below is a sampling of the blasts at him, with a few comments inserted. For a mega-blast source, take a look at Deputy District Attorney David Berger’s Los Angeles Dragnet website:
Violating His Pledge
Los Angeles Times
Editorial, Feb. 13
It’s been clear for months, ever since Trutanich began compiling a campaign treasury that now exceeds $1 million, that his promise to focus on his job as city attorney and not seek higher office before completing two full terms was a bunch of bunk. He reneged on that commitment, and now his campaign spokesman is essentially making fun of anyone who was sucker enough to have thought he was serious and to try to hold him to his pledge.
See, everyone does it. Every politician, anyway. And one of the first clues that Trutanich was a politician was, or should have been, the fact that during his 2008-09 campaign, he kept saying, “I’m not a politician.”
But Trutanich’s promise was the centerpiece of his campaign. Los Angeles was just completing eight years with Rocky Delgadillo, whose tenure as city attorney was marked less by achievement and good lawyering than by personal ambition for higher office. Just days after winning a second term, Delgadillo announced that he wasn’t really planning to serve as city attorney but was instead running for attorney general. Voters didn’t need more of that—and many were swayed by Trutanich’s assertion that his runoff opponent, Councilman Jack Weiss, was a climber and a short-termer in a similar vein. Trutanich promised that he would be no drive-by city attorney.
Now, here we are, several years later, and it turns out that Trutanich didn’t even have the grace to complete his first term, much less start a second one, before pulling a Delgadillo.
Editorial, Feb. 15
…Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich…pledged during his 2009 campaign not to run for another political office. He said he would be the people’s attorney and focus solely on that, his own career trajectory be damned. But now that he formally (and, let’s be honest, finally) entered the race last week to replace Steve Cooley as Los Angeles County district attorney, that pledge is revealed as the junk it always was. Surely he wishes he never made such a promise.
The usual explanation when politicians recant their pledges not to run is that they changed their mind after concerned citizens begged them to run or they realize what good they could accomplish. Uh huh. Right. OK.
Doug McIntyre, “McIntyre in the Morning,” March 5
Now, the fact that he pledged that he would not seek higher office until he served two terms as city attorney, that promise went by the wayside. The fact that he promised, repeatedly to us, and lied to my face, repeatedly, on this show, yes, I’m a little bit ticked by that….
People don’t like liars. And we certainly don’t like liars being the chief the enforcement officer and having felony arrest power.
Los Angeles Times
Steve Lopez column, March 7
I was just trying to help L.A. City Atty. Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich keep a campaign promise recently when I went looking for an airplane that would fly around downtown with a sign reading: “Nuch is a liar.” And now it occurs to me that there’s another promise I should help him keep: His pledge to also donate $100,000 to a program that helps kids.
That would be LA’s Best After School Enrichment Program, which serves 28,000 students at 186 schools.
For those who need a little background, way back in 2008, Trutanich came up with a clever gimmick while running for city attorney against Jack Weiss. He invited Weiss to join him in signing a pledge that the winner of the race would complete a first term as city attorney and run for a second term as well, rather than bolting early to pursue higher political ambitions.
Weiss didn’t sign the pledge, but Trutanich did, vowing to donate a hundred grand to LA’s Best and take out ads calling himself a liar if he broke his promise. And now he’s running for district attorney, a year before completing his first term as city attorney.
“We have not received a check,” Carla Sanger, president and chief executive of LA’s Best, told me Monday.
A $100,000 donation would be a godsend, Sanger said, because deep budget shortfalls are expected in the nonprofit after-school program that was begun in 1988 by Mayor Tom Bradley. The city’s contribution alone could be $125,000 smaller this year, she said, and the wallop from the state could be even more staggering, making private donations like the one Trutanich promised all the more critical.
A couple weeks ago, Trutanich told me he didn’t consider the 2008 pledge to be valid, because Weiss never took up the challenge.
Was he letting himself off on a technicality?
Hold on, Steve. What Trutanich is raising is not a “technicality” but an irrelevancy. He made a flat-out promise to voters. His pledge was not conditioned on Weiss making the same vow. Trutanich challenged Weiss to sign the pledge, and Weiss didn’t; that has no bearing on the fact that Trutanich did sign the unequivocal pledge, and in campaign appearances ballyhooed the commitment he had made.
Anyway, Lopez goes on to say:
…[L]ate Tuesday, Trutanich called me to say don’t worry. “We’re going to raise $100,000,” he said.
Wait a minute. Raise $100,000? That’s pretty sneaky. I reminded him that his 2008 pledge was to write a check from “personal funds.”
“I’m not a rich guy,” Trutanich said. “I gotta raise it.”
I asked when that would be, and he said by his birthday in August, which of course would conveniently fall after the June primary.
What Would Reagan Do? (blog site)
Jan. 9, 2012
If further proof were needed that Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich is wholly lacking in integrity and leadership, his shameful attempt to blame the Los Angeles Police Department for the collapse of his case against the Occupy LA protesters provides that proof.
Trutanich threw LAPD under the bus as soon as word leaked out that ‘many cases’ had been dismissed by courts faced with prosecutors unprepared for trial. Despite having 30 days to prepare, it seems that Trutanich had missed errors in the police reports. Rather than acting like a leader and accepting responsibility for his failure, he blamed “paperwork errors made by police officers during the Nov. 30 raid” for the embarrassing collapse of his cases. Trutanich offered no explanation as to why these so-called “paperwork errors” were not spotted before the cases were called for trial.
Doug McIntyre column, Feb. 15
There are reasons to fear him.
Trutanich has stomped around L.A. like Godzilla in tap shoes, waving sheaves of paper at the cameras like Joe McCarthy, threatening prosecutions that never materialized against AEG officials over the Michael Jackson memorial, as well as countless others, while breaking pledge after fundamental pledge.
I guess he’s counting on that million bucks [in his campaign coffers] to make us forget the snake oil he sold us last time.
But a much more significant broken promise happened before Trutanich had even put his hand on the Bible to take the oath of office.
Candidate Trutanich pledged his unqualified support of the city controller’s RIGHT to audit any city department, including the city attorney’s.
The backpedaling began on election night.
Suddenly Trutanich blustered about giving the controller “permission” to audit rather than the RIGHT to audit. A major difference.
Next, he engaged in an expensive legal fight with Controller-elect Wendy Greuel prompted by his own broken promise, and maligned the character of Fredric Woocher, the attorney representing the very position Trutanich had campaigned on!
And let’s not forget last week’s bogus “endorsement” list—a list immediately repudiated by the law enforcement agencies and professionals whose names had been used without permission. Amazingly, Councilman Dennis Zine says he now supports Trutanich because his opponents are “too negative.”
How positive should they be given Nuch’s history of deception?
Gene Maddaus, Feb. 23
Carmen Trutanich came into office vowing to “throw politics out the front door.” But in almost three years as city attorney, he has repeatedly sought jail time for minor offenses that align with his political crusades. He’s pursued sign installers like Mark Denny….
Such high-profile crusades have become part of his sales pitch now that the 60-year-old Trutanich is running for district attorney. But the truth is that he has largely failed in his efforts to lock people up for these nuisance crimes — even as the manpower he’s devoted to them has left fewer resources for more important cases. Records show, for example, that the City Attorney’s Office under Trutanich has cut back on pursuing gang injunctions—a critical component of public safety—and has prosecuted far fewer gang cases than his predecessor.
David Berger on Los Angeles (Website)
Trutanich…released a glitzy 13 minute long video advertisement which culminated in an impassioned endorsement by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
Trutanich’s use of Sheriff Lee Baca’s endorsement violated state law. The video was removed when the crime was discovered, but Trutanich has refused to take responsibility for his misconduct.
Sheriff Baca put his credibility and reputation on the line saying Trutanich is “the best qualified to serve as District Attorney for Los Angeles County.” But what Sheriff Baca didn’t say is that state law forbids him from making that endorsement while he is in uniform. That same law also forbids Sheriff Baca from making an endorsement while on duty. But Trutanich set-up Sheriff Baca to break the law because he needed the credibility and respectability that the Office of the Sheriff would bring to his campaign—regardless of the cost. The ends justify the means.
Sheriff Baca first told the LA Times that he believed was ‘exempt’ from the law. No doubt he said that based on ‘advice’ he was given by Trutanich. However, after checking with real lawyers, the Sheriff found out that the law applied to him just like it applies to you, to me, to everyone. Only then did Sheriff Baca do the decent thing; he admitted to the LA Times that he was wrong and had broken the law. There was no innocent explanation. I’ll give Sheriff Baca credit for admitting that much.
But Trutanich? What did he do? A big ‘mea culpa’ moment? A press release admitting responsibility? No. Trutanich made no statement, offered no explanation, and simply removed the illegal endorsement from his video as if it never happened. Trutanich has since refused to answer questions about his complicity in breaking the law, because, according to his warped ethical and moral compass, it was no big deal.
Los Angeles Times
Investigative report, March 4
An unlikely Internet sensation has struck it big on YouTube: Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich.
Two polished videos promoting his run for district attorney last month show Trutanich driving the gritty streets of Los Angeles telling war stories from his days as a prosecutor: being shot at by a street gang and sending a killer to death row.
Within days, the videos amassed 725,000 views on YouTube, with the most popular clip leaping past any campaign video from GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. A Trutanich news release trumpeted the videos’ popularity as showcasing “broad support behind Trutanich’s candidacy from a vast online and grass-roots audience.”
But the campaign statement left out a key detail: It paid for many of those YouTube views.
After The Times questioned the video’s view count, Trutanich’s campaign acknowledged that it had hired an online marketing firm to drum up views by aggressively advertising the videos across the Internet. The Los Angeles firm said it was paid to generate 150,000 to 250,000 views but that a huge online audience then followed naturally.
But several social media experts questioned how many of the views were from genuinely interested people. YouTube recently suspended the accounts of most of the users who left positive comments on the Trutanich videos, citing violations of its policy against commercially deceptive content. Meanwhile, a Connecticut-based online video promoter told The Times that his firm was paid to generate 400,000 views for the Trutanich clips—far more than the campaign says it paid for.
“ John and Ken Show,” March 8
JOHN: Well, the L.A. city attorney, Carmen Trutanich, truly got on our “bad list” mostly, recently, because he showed up at an L.A.—well, he didn’t show up, but he sent a representative with a bald opinion piece—this was the L.A. Police Commission meeting recently with the unlicensed drivers and the impounds ….
KEN: And, unlike [District Attorney] Steve Cooley or the lawyers who work for the state Senate, he thinks that [Los Angeles Police Chief] Charlie Beck is not violating state law by changing the impound law for unlicensed drivers. Of course, he can’t explain himself clearly because his 9-page legal opinion was just diarrhea.
JOHN: He’s now running for L.A. County DA seat—that is, of course, the office now occupied by Steve Cooley, and the same day that this opinion was issued to the Police Commission about Charlie Beck—it’s OK if he changes the impound policy—guess what? He got an important endorsement from the L.A. County Federation of Labor. We believe that they’ve been involved in issues like this and probably look with favorably on Mr. Trutanich delivering this opinion.
KEN: It was a clear trade, it was a clear trade to get union support.
Fox 11 News
Anchor Jeff Michael’s introduction to interview
with Trutanich, March 9
In the race for Los Angeles district attorney, no candidate has garnered more coverage than Carmen Trutanich, the current city attorney. Unfortunately for Trutanich, not very much of it complimentary. Mr. Trutanich has been called to task for, among things, breaking his promise to not run for Los Angeles district attorney; listing supporters, law enforcement organizations, that didn’t, in fact, support him; and paying to get hits on his You-Tube campaign video, something his campaign didn’t admit until confronted by the L.A. Times. Just to add a little fun to all of this…the L.A. Weekly even dubbed him “Carmen the Barbarian,” a humorous cover, but with reference to how he has run the City Attorney’s Office.
Los Angeles Weekly’s Daily Blog
Gene Maddaus commentary, March 9
Carmen Trutanich is the Los Angeles city attorney. But that’s not how he wants to known to voters who cast ballots for L.A. district attorney in June.
On paperwork filed Thursday with county elections officials, Trutanich says he wants to be called “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor.”
That job does not exist. The phony title seems intended to make voters think Trutanich is already the district attorney, so voting for him would be like voting for the incumbent.
[P]eople don’t like attorneys. They like prosecutors. Trutanich is running against a bunch of prosecutors, so he has to elevate himself to “chief prosecutor.”
This is not a new phenomenon. When City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo ran for attorney general in 2006, he described himself on the ballot as “Prosecutor/City Attorney.” He at least got his actual title in there. Trutanich is stretching the truth several notches beyond that.
Good points about the ballot designation.
A candidate may use, as a ballot designation, “[w]ords designating the elective city…office which the candidate holds at the time of filing the nomination documents to which he or she was elected by vote of the people….” So says Elections Code §13107(a)(1). For Trutanich, that means he could list himself as “Los Angeles City Attorney.”
But, he doesn’t want to do that, for reasons Maddaus pinpoints. With Jackie Lacey running as “Chief Deputy D.A.,” if Trutanich were to bill himself as our “Chief Prosecutor,” it would appear, to the uninformed, that Lacey is Trutanich’s underling.
Anyway, There’s more to the statute. Under §13107(a)(3), a candidate may use “[n]o more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate.” Trutanich has used four words…but the statute allows that in this instance, providing: “For purposes of this section, all California geographical names shall be considered to be one word.”
Trutanich is, in fact, the head of an office that prosecutes alleged misdemeanants. So, “Chief Prosecutor, City of Los Angeles,” would be accurate, notwithstanding that Trutanich’s activities predominately involve overseeing civil functions of the office.
The problem is that he’s running for a County of Los Angeles office and, without words of limitation, the impression he casts in designating himself “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” is that he is already chief prosecutor for the county—that is, he’s the incumbent DA.
This brings us to §13107(b)(1) which bars the Registrar-Recorder’s Office from accepting a designation which “would mislead the voter.” A judge could well find that Trutanich is attempting to flimflam voters with his designation and order it changed.
IPSEN NOT RUNNING?—Although the period for taking out and filing nominating papers for the office of district attorney would normally have ended last Friday, it was extended until tomorrow because the incumbent did not run. So, Deputy District Attorney Steve Ipsen—who still has a campaign website up—could yet perfect his candidacy.
But it doesn’t look as if he will. Few coins are in coffers and endorsements are scant. Steve Cooley did not jump in the race at the last moment, as some had predicted he would, so Ipsen could not use the campaign as a forum for spewing his anti-Cooley messages.
His apparent decision not to run might also have something to do with a writ action this newspaper filed which is pending…but will be moot as to Ipsen if he does not file his papers. It seeks DA Office performance evaluations of Ipsen and Meyers, as well as their disciplinary records, if any. (Personnel records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act if the intrusion on privacy would be “unwarranted”; where a candidate is urging the public to examine his or her job performance, release of records that would enable voters to make an informed evaluation is obviously warranted.)
In his opposition, Ipsen divulged that he has, indeed, incurred office discipline and, if the information were released, it could be ruinous to his political chances.
The opposition reveals that there is “a likelihood of harm from the release of the requested information in that it would have a significant effect on his career, reputation and harm his chances to succeed to higher office.”
Ipsen says in a declaration:
“The public disclosure of my personnel file, any performance evaluations or discipline that would be released if mandamus relief is granted would have a detrimental effect on…my aspirations to succeed to higher office.”
In other words, the more the voters know about him, the less are his chances in politics.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company