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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA Mayor’s race: Complaint alleges Greuel misused city email account

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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013An ally of Eric Garcetti filed an ethics complaint Friday against Wendy Greuel, claiming the city controller violated ethics rules by using her government email account in her campaign for mayor. 

“Ms. Greuel’s apparent mis-use of public resources is an insult to the voters and taxpayers of Los Angeles,” said former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who has endorsed Garcetti for mayor. She filed her complaint with the City Ethics Commission.

The Los Cerritos Community News obtained Greuel’s emails through a California Public Records Act request. Those emails show she emailed political consultants and staff about her campaign on dozens of occasions.

In one note sent from wendy.geuel@lacity.org in January, Greuel asked her campaign consultants for advice on how to handle an event sponsored by California Common Cause. “This being the anniversary of Citizens United…anything we should be prepared for, stay quiet, go on the offensive?”

A spokeswoman for Greuel downplayed the emails.

“Greuel recognizes that she could have done a better job of keeping her two email accounts separate,” spokeswoman Laura Wilkinson said in a statement. “Over a two-year period, there were only about 50-60 emails that were inadvertently forwarded by Greuel.”

Wilkinson maintained the city did not incur any material costs from the emails. “Controller Greuel, however, would not hesitate to reimburse the city, if asked to do.”

In her complaint, Galanter accused Greuel of “gross misuse of her position as the city’s elected fiscal watchdog.” Others disagreed about the seriousness of the issue.

“I don’t think it’s a huge deal,” said Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies. He helped write the city’s ethics laws.

At the same time, Stern said the city controller should have known better.

“She is somebody who has to be held to the highest standard,” Stern said. “She is watching over the city’s finances.”

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