L.A. mayoral frontrunners Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel entered into what appears to be their first public spat of the campaign Friday.
At a morning press conference, Greuel, who serves as Controller for the City of Los Angeles, announced she had issued subpoenas “to compel AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel Corp to hand over the City’s cell phone bills from 2006 – June 2011.” She said it was part of a larger investigation into the city’s wireless phone contracts.
“This billing information is crucial in determining whether the cell phone carriers provided the city with optimized savings and billed the City accurately for wireless services,” Greuel said.
She said the subpoenas are a follow up to a 2011 audit that found individual city departments failed to ensure that cell phone carriers complied with requirements to “optimize” phone plans to fit the departments’ usage. “As a result, the initial audit found that the city regularly paid more for cell phones than necessary.”
The afternoon brought an e-mail from the Garcetti campaign.
"It shouldn't take an election for Ms. Greuel to finally get serious about finishing her incomplete audit from May 2011,” Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said. “We've had four years of a press release Controller, and L.A. cannot afford a press release Mayor."
The statement signaled a sharpening of the debate between Garcetti and Greuel, who've known each other for years and served on the council together at one point. Early polls show the two Democrats tied for the lead, although most voters are undecided in the non-partisan contest. The two candidates each have raised about $2 million.
Later in the afternoon, the Greuel campaign called Garcetti’s attack “baseless.”
"Eric Garcetti's attack is factually incorrect and an example of political opportunism at its worst,” said Greuel campaign consultant John Shallman. “Under Eric Garcetti's presidency, the City Council was asleep at the wheel while millions of dollars were wasted."
The primary is March 5.