Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

City Attorney Trutanich cuts down on appearances after mother's death; campaign continues

Carmen Trutanich
Carmen Trutanich City of Los Angeles

Esther Trutanich, the mother of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich died Saturday of pneumonia in a San Pedro hospital. Her son is running for re-election on Tuesday's primary ballot.

Campaign spokesman John Schwada said Trutanich will not be campaigning in the few days remaining in the primary election, however he might attend a few low-key campaign events.

"In respect to the campaign the city attorney will be dealing with family matters in the next few days and will suspend his personal involvement in the campaign," Schwada said. "That is not to say that the campaign has stopped."

The pre-arranged campaign mailers and TV ads will circulate as planned, he said.

Trutanich said in a written statement that he felt "truly blessed to have been raised by such a wonderful woman."

Esther Trutanich had seven children, 15 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. Her husband Andrew, who worked for Starkist Tuna for more than 40 years, died in 1999. A funeral date has not yet been set.

The death of his mother adds a personal challenge to the political ones he has faced in the past year. Trutanich ran for Los Angeles County district attorney and lost. He sued his former campaign consultant, John Shallman, alleging campaign money was misspent.

Trutanich is locked in a tight re-election race against former Assemblyman Mike Feuer and attorney Gregory Smith. The Los Angeles Times reported that Feuer was leading in polls with   Smith and Trutanich statistically tied for second.   Only two candidates advance to the May runoff election. Both Feuer and Smith have raised more campaign funds than Trutanich.

Trutanich complained to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on Friday that the Feuer campaign was breaking city campaign finance laws by deferring payments of at least $150,000 to Shallman.

Deferring payments to a campaign consultant frees up money for other campaign activities and gives Feuer an unfair and unlawful advantage, said Schwada.

"It is our contention that the Feuer campaign is engaging in illegal behavior and that the deferred $150,000 to $250,000 in consulting services that John Shallman is providing to the campaign but is not being paid for, amounts to an illegal campaign contribution from his campaign consultant," Schwada said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Shallman said he had a no-win, no-pay contract with Feuer that permitted Shallman to waive his fees.

Calls to Shallman and the Feuer campaign were not immediately returned Sunday.

In an email to the Daily News, Feuer's campaign countered the claim is "absolutely, completely, without any basis at all."

City election laws cap contributions to candidates' campaigns at $1,300 per citywide candidate during the primary. The Trutanich campaign, estimating Shallman's services as worth about $20,000 per month, views the provision of unpaid services as an illegal campaign contribution, Schwada said.

The primary election is Tuesday. 

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