Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Garcetti, Greuel get most show biz donations in mayor's race

Mayor Celebrities

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Steven Spielberg is supporting the mayoral campaign of City Controller and former Dreamworks employee Wendy Greuel.

Mayor Celebrities

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LA Mayoral candidate Jan Perry has the support of actor George Takei.

Mayor Celebrities

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LA mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti's long list of supporters includes actress Salma Hayek.

Show business companies and workers have given nearly a million dollars to candidates running in the Los Angeles mayoral race, with Councilman Eric Garcetti getting about half the money.

An analysis by the reporting partnership of 89.3 KPCC and NBC4 found that entertainment companies and their employees, along with actors, donated at least $960,000 in the mayor's race through the third quarter of 2012. Entertainment-related donations will certainly top the million-dollar mark before the March 5 primary election.

Entertainment companies have varied interests in Los Angeles. CBS, for example, owns a billboard company that has to abide by city regulations. NBC Universal has vast real estate holdings in Universal City. Disney owns El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, and parks its cruise ships at the Port of Los Angeles. 


Poll finds Garcetti, Greuel frontrunners in 2013 mayor's race; 2/3 undecided (updated)

Eric Garcetti

Eric Garcetti campaign

A poll by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles finds Councilman Eric Garcetti leads the 2013 mayoral primary amongst voters who have already decided who to vote for. Two-thirds of voters remain undecided.

For Angelenos who have already made up their minds about the 2013 mayoral primary, their top pick is Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, a new poll released Monday concludes.

The Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University surveyed 3,749 voters as they left the polls Nov. 6. The poll indicated that two-thirds of those voters have not yet decided whom to vote for in the March 5, 2013 primary. For the 1,152 voters who had made up their minds, Garcetti led with 36 percent. Controller Wendy Greuel polled at 32 percent, while Councilwoman Jan Perry trailed with 15 percent followed by attorney Kevin James at 8.7 percent.

“We’re very encouraged by that because we think it shows the broad outlines of the Garcetti coalition,” the campaign’s Bill Carrick told KPCC. “Is it the end all and be all of all polling? No, but it’s very interesting.”


Insider tip: How to lift the ceiling on Los Angeles' mayor's race spending limits

Demon Sheep ad

Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate campaign 2010

Demon Sheep ad produced by Fred Davis' company Strategic Perception Inc. for the 2010 Carly Fiorina U.S. Senate campaign.

Los Angeles voters long ago installed contribution and spending limits in city elections. But those spending limits can be wiped out when a big-spending political action committee announces it's getting into the campaign.

Republican political strategist Fred Davis announced this week that he's formed a committee, Better Way LA, to raise $4 million to spend on behalf of  mayoral candidate Kevin James.

Davis, creator of some of the GOP's most-noticed commercials — including the 2010 Demon Sheep ad for U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina  — said he's doing it to put the James campaign on equal footing with other candidates.

Indpendent spending like Davis' is legal and unlimited, and it can affect what other candidates may spend in the mayor's race. Here's how that works:

So far, James and three better-funded candidates — council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, and City Controller Wendy Greuel — have agreed to abide by spending limits in the primary. In exchange, they can get up to $667,000 in city matching funds.

But as soon as independent groups — alone or combined — spend $309,000 for or against a single candidate, the city lifts the spending limits on all candidates in the mayor's race. And they can keep the matching funds.

This sort of indie spending isn't new in LA elections. It totals about $16 million since 2001, according to records of the City Ethics Commission. In the last open race for mayor in 2005, independent committees spent nearly $3.7 million. Those dollars came mostly from unions, but also from business, environmental and partisan political groups.

Meanwhile, the city limits on direct contributions to candidates remain capped at $1,300 per donor.

Anybody who wants to spend more will have to create their own independent expenditure committee, or give to one like Fred Davis' Better Way LA.


LA's mayoral candidates propose alternatives to sales tax increase

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The top mayoral candidates, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, all oppose the proposed sales tax increase.

A final vote to place a half-cent sales tax on the City of Los Angeles’ spring ballot is scheduled for Tuesday, but the top mayoral candidates have already come out in opposition to the proposal.

The tax increase, backed by council President Herb Wesson, could bring in as much as $215 million a year. Mayoral candidates and current council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry voted no in last week's initial vote.

Fellow candidate Wendy Greuel, L.A.'s City Controller, is also opposed. So is attorney Kevin James, who calls the proposed tax shortsighted — with some pointed words about Wesson's argument that the tax would give officials "breathing room" to come up with long-term solutions.

“I can translate it for you in just a few words – kicking the can farther down the road. That’s what breathing room means,” James said of the proposal. 


Eric Garcetti pulls ahead — slightly — in mayoral money race

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

Candidates running to be Los Angeles' next mayor, in order from left to right: Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti. Both Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti report $2.8 million in their latest campaign reports, according to the Ethics Commission.

Money just keeps rolling in for the 2013 race for mayor of Los Angeles, and it appears hopefuls Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti are staying neck-and-neck when it comes to donations. 

In his quarterly campaign finance report, Garcetti reported $2.87 million – about $71,000 more than Greuel. Councilwoman Jan Perry reported $1.3 million, while attorney Kevin James had $275,000 and former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Emanuel Pleitez, had $110,000.

Those figures are for the period ending Sept. 30. Of course, the question hanging over the race is whether billionaire developer Rick Caruso will run for mayor. Caruso has the power to significantly outspend whatever the declared candidates could raise from donors. (It costs an estimated $1.4 million to do a week’s worth of television ads in Los Angeles.)