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In L.A.'s city attorney race, it seems that only money talks

January 29, 2009 |  4:50 pm

Every city election season brings the inevitable debate about who is a legitimate candidate, and the answer often comes down to money. Tonight at 6:30, three Los Angeles city attorney candidates — Councilman Jack Weiss, environmental attorney Carmen Trutanich and Deputy City Atty. Michael Amerian — have been invited to speak at a forum hosted by the Assn. of Black City Attorneys at First African Methodist Episcopal Renaissance Corp.

The two other candidates, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Berger and Marina del Rey attorney Noel Weiss, were not asked to be part of the event, and they're not happy about it.

In an e-mail to reporters today, Berger said he believed he was being excluded because he's been a vocal critic of Jack Weiss, who represents the 5th Council District, where Berger lives. Noel Weiss said he contacted organizers and was also upset he wasn't invited.

Event organizer Capri Maddox said the association — which Berger referred to as "an obscure organization" in his e-mail to reporters — invited candidates who had contacted the group requesting a sit-down with members and who had filed financial reports with the city ethics commission by late December.

As of midday today, Berger still had not filed his most recent campaign finance report, which was due Jan. 22. In his Dec. 31 report, he said he had less than $5,000 on hand.

Jack Weiss has raised $1.5 million and has more than $1 million on hand. Trutanich has raised nearly $673,000 and has received $121,630 in matching funds — giving him nearly $451,000 to spend in the final weeks. Amerian now has $267,000 on hand and has received nearly $89,000 in matching funds. Noel Weiss reported $400 in contributions over the last filing period and reported that he's spent $5 and change.

Berger told reporters that given his seriousness about his candidacy, he "cannot stand by and allow the members of the Black City Attorneys Assn. to be misled." To that end, he plans to hand out fliers outside the forum and "resist whatever further efforts may be made to silence me."

Maddox said the group had no such intention: "If Mr. Berger wants to come and address the group, we can make time on the schedule for him to do that," she said.

-- Maeve Reston