Feuer says Caruso’s strategy will require a special interest fundraising binge!
By Nick Antonicello
L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer last week challenged his rival in the June Mayoral Primary Election, billionaire real-estate developer Rick Caruso, to convert $10 million in loans to his campaign into contributions.
Caruso, the billionaire developer who resides in Pacific Palisades has become a target of his opponents in lieu of his media blitz on cable, radio and broadcast television that has drowned out any other candidate or message.
“After the election, Caruso will go on a furious crusade to raise money from special interests to repay those loans and put the money into his own pocket,” Feuer said. “That’s why he’s called these loans and not outright contributions. But those special interests wouldn’t be disclosed till after voters cast their ballots.”
Caruso, the presumed frontrunner based on his spending alone has other liberal Democrats in the race trying to find a voice and breakthrough to the electorate with about seven weeks before the all-important, June 7th Primary that in all probability will whittle the field to just two while some political observers believe Caruso could even claim victory on a first-ballot.
Feuer, who has pursued campaign finance reforms throughout his career, said, “What Caruso is doing is a charade that evades the spirit of the city’s campaign finance laws.”
Feuer pointed out that Caruso spokesperson Peter Ragone tried to defend the campaign loans by saying, “Rick Caruso rejects the special-interest path.”
“That’s smoke and mirrors,” Feuer said. “The purpose of a loan is to have it repaid. Campaign contributions are disclosed to the public and go into a campaign; loan repayments go into the candidate’s own pocket. Caruso is trying to have it both ways. He says he rejects so-called special interest fundraising, but that’s exactly what he will do to repay himself after the election.”
Caruso has loaned his campaign to date more than $10 million in personal funds.
“To repay himself that money, Caruso would have to go on the most furious fundraising binge in the history of Los Angeles,”
Since Caruso seems to be self-financing his extravagant spending spree to date, it is not clear if he can simply pay the loans himself.
Feuer said. “And where will he go to raise those massive sums? He’ll go right to the special interests he now claims to reject. And he’ll put the loan repayment right into his own pocket.”
Caruso has made homeless encampments, rising crime and other quality-of-life issues the foundation of his first time flirtation for public office.
A recently new-minted Democrat, Caruso has positioned himself squarely in the middle of the political spectrum as most of his opponents are left of center such as Feuer, US Congresswoman Karen Bass and LA City councilmember Kevin de Leon.
Councilman Joe Buscaino of CD-15 is most in line with the issues and philosophy of Caruso.
Buscaino announced his candidacy in Venice last summer during the height of the homeless encampment epidemic at the boardwalk that was disrupted by a female transient who was wielding a knife.
Many see Caruso’s candidacy reminiscent of former LA Mayor Richard Riordan who as a businessman successfully succeeded outgoing Mayor Tom Bradley in 1993. Riordan, a Republican ran under the slogan, “tough enough to turn LA around.”
Nick Antonicello covers political and governmental issue of Los Angeles and their impact on Venice. He can be reached at (310) 621-3775 or via e-mail at email@example.com