Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Carmen Trutanich amends ethics complaint against political rival over consultant's fees

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The Los Angeles city attorney is continuing to complain that his political rival accepted an illegal gift -- filing new paperwork Monday containing what he claims is proof of improprieties.

Carmen Trutanich first filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission March 1, just days before he appeared on the primary ballot for reelection.

In last week's election, Trutanich finished second place behind Assemblyman Mike Feuer, forcing a runoff in May.

According to reports filed with the city Ethics Commission, Feuer paid his political consultant John Shallman $7,871 for work done during the primary. Trutanich complains the fee should have been in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. The complaint was amended Monday to note that three politicians who hired the same consultant – Wendy Greuel, Mike Bonin and Gil Cedillo – paid more than half a million dollars in fees for the primary election, according to expense reports with the Ethics Commission.

“These billing discrepancies do not pass the smell test,” said Rick Taylor, Trutanich's chief strategist. “We believe the virtually free services Shallman is providing to Feuer constitute a huge, illegal in-kind contribution by Shallman to Feuer. When a contribution – monetary or in-kind – exceeds $1,300 per citywide candidate per election, it is illegal.”

The Ethics Commission does not comment on its investigation process. 

“The claims are absolutely false and have no merit,” said Dave Jacobson, a spokesman for Shallman. 

The Ethics Commission shows Feuer raised $983,471 in the primary. Trutanich raised $528,244. Those funds will not carry over to the general election.

Trutanich and Shallman have been locked in a legal battle since the city attorney lost his 2012 bid for Los Angeles County district attorney. Trutanich is disputing $165,000 in fees from that campaign. In response, Shallman likened his former client to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

A spokesman for Trutanich said that ongoing legal dispute has nothing to do with this latest complaint filed with the Ethics Commission. 

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