Thursday, June 23, 2011

Carmen Trutanich's District Attorney Fundraiser Questioned "Appearance of Impropriety" Alleged

Carmen Trutanich's campaign to become District Attorney stepped up a notch or three on the radar of ethics monitors with several reports this week focusing on who and how: Who is doing Trutanich's fundraising, and how Trutanich is going about fundraising? Both were brought sharply into focus after the LA Times reported that John Ek, a notorious City Hall lobbyist, had been listed as a $25,000 "Host" at a fundraiser for Trutanich's campaign to become District Attorney.

Lobbyist John Ek together with his former criminal defense lawyer City Attorney Carmen Trutanich
and the invitation for the controversial $25,000 Host/Raise cocktail reception in San Pedro. 

The John Ek hosted fundraiser came at around the same time Trutanich was insisting that a conflict of interest prevented one of Ek's clients, LAX concessionaire HMS Host, from being kicked out of LAX for giving the airport a reputation for "lousy food." Ultimately, as the LA Times reported, Trutanich and Ek prevailed over common sense, and Ek's client, HMS Host, can continue to operate at LAX.

While Trutanich pretends to be undecided on whether or not to run from his appalling record of "thuggery, bullying, grandstanding and reneging on promises" as LA's City Attorney, he is gathering a war chest of cash to overcome the negatives that surround his troubled 23 months in public office.

But taking money from lobbyists is an ethical and political "no no" that even the nighttime parttime law-schooled wannabe top cop has to honor. The apparent failure of Trutanich to realize that having a lobbyist as a fundraiser was off-limits caused a flood of negative comments in the blogs. Famed former journalist turned Street-Hassle blogger, Mulholand Terrace, was the first to comment on the questionable link between the LAX, Ek, Trutanich and the fundraiser cocktail reception. Politics Without Mercy went further, delving further into the long and perhaps lucrative history between the lobbyist and Trutanich. The Los Angeles Dragnet added a little more by accusing Trutanich of being the new Jack Weiss and cutting and pasting the PWM piece in its entirely, as we now do.


City Attorney Carmen ‘Nuch’ Trutanich kicked off fundraising for his campaign to become District Attorney with a lavish cocktail reception in San Pedro.  The April 27, 2011 cocktail reception was co-hosted by the notorious City Hall lobbyist John Ek, and came less than a week after Trutanich’s ties to Ek were revealed in the Los Angeles Weekly in an expose “How Lobbyist John Ek Gets His Way In City Hall.”

At the time of the LA Weekly article, Trutanich was proving to be a true ally in Ek’s efforts allow his client, HMS Host, to hold on to its concessions at Los Angeles Airport where, according to the LA Weekly, HMS Host has given LAX a reputation for “lousy food.” Few would disagree that LAX food is horrible and expensive, and LAX  had selected new concessionaires to replace HMS Host. But Trutanich raised a conflict of interest issue that allowed HMS Host to continue to supply “lousy food.”

The Tru Is False blog also raised questions about Trutanich’s relationship with Ek, noting that while Trutanich was a criminal defense attorney, he represented Ek when Ek was called to testify in a Grand Jury proceeding regarding campaign finance issues. Ek never testified.

Given the question marks surrounding Trutanich’s close relationship with the LAX lobbyist, one might have thought that Trutanich would seek to distance himself from Ek as he attempts to bunny hop from the from the City Attorney’s Office to the DA’s Office. Apparently not. Today the LA Times revealed that Ek had been a co-host at Trutanich’s cocktail reception with the ink barely dry at the LA Weekly.

Trutanich had probably planned his San Pedro cocktail reception well in advance of the embarrassing details of his relationship with the LAX lobbyist being revealed, but was clearly not bothered by what many might well think is the appearance of impropriety, perhaps even a conflict of interest. Some might think that Trutanich’s lack of concern is indicative of an arrogance of office, a “F you, I’m the City Attorney and I can do what I like!” mentality that epitomizes Trutanich’s reputation as a bully and a thug.

As a host listed on Trutanich’s mailer, Ek is expected to produce $25,000 in campaign contributions – that’s the price of getting the top billing on the mailer. But today, Trutanich’s campaign spokesman, John Shallman, told the LA Times that “Ek did not raise any money or give any contributions at the event.”Apparently the Times did not get a satisfactory answer to the obvious follow-up question “Well, if Ek wasn’t giving Trutanich and money, nor persuading any of his clients to do so, why is Ek listed as a host where the invitation clearly states ‘$25,000 Host/Raise’?” There must be an innocent explanation, surely?

Trutanich has to report all campaign contributions by the end of this month. His ever growing list of enemies will be examining that list carefully to see if any of Ek’s clients are listed as contributors.

Although it is perplexing to some that Trutanich, who projects himself as a “do the right thing kinda guy,” would align himself so closely and publicly with a lobbyist, it is not the first time that Trutanich’s conduct has raised eyebrows. Barely days after taking office, Trutanich claimed that there were “criminal aspects” to AEG’s handling of the Michael Jackson Memorial at Staples Center, and announced that his Bureau of Investigation was gathering evidence. A year later, the criminal aspects investigation abruptly ended without either criminal charges or a statement from Trutanich. A search of Trutanich’s campaign finance records showed a  his Office Holder committee had received free tickets to a Lady Gaga concert at LA Live, a venue operated by, AEG. There’s surely an innocent explanation, but, like the LAX concession “assist” to John Ek, it really looks bad.

Some might think that voters have a reasonable expectation to demand they highest of ethical standards from a candidate seeking to be the county’s top prosecutor. That Trutanich should forgo campaign contributions that look questionable, even if there is plausible innocent explanation. That does not appear to be Trutanich’s belief,

It has also been pointed out that Trutanich’s invitation lacks the required disclosure notice stating “Paid for by the Committee to Elect …” A small detail, perhaps, but again, the job of District Attorney is one that demands an attention to detail, and that too seems lacking.

The primary election for Los Angeles County’s next District Attorney will take place on June 5, 2012.

The above is attributed with thanks and appreciation to Politics Without Mercy.


Anonymous said...

Carmen Trutanich is a scumbag. Nothing but lies and deceit come from his mouth. Is he a Democrat or a Republican? Is he running for DA even though he signed a promise not to? Is he taking money from shady people or taking pay-offs?

Who knows. Nothing is straight forward with this obviously shady politician. Even Jack Weiss would've been better... that's sad.

Anonymous said...

Trutanich is a highly corrupt fake, bully-type unethical politician. He is using his office as Los Angeles City Attorney to support widespread corruption of the Los Angeles County Health Department and the extortion of poor farmers' market vendors by this highly corrupt organization. He is covering up perjury and extortion.

He filled 55 counts of false criminal charges against a farmers' market vendor that had the guts to complaint about widespread corruption of the Los Angeles County Health Department by using fabricated and false charges from corrupt Los Angeles County Health Inspectors and their corrupt managers. He achieved a 0% conviction rate on those 55 counts.

Is this the kind of DA that LA needs?

I do not think so. We do not need individuals that support corruption at the DA's office.