Trutanich seeks probe of district attorney's office [Updated]
Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich asked state authorities Friday to investigate what he called "suspicious political activity" in the district attorney's office, including how his personnel file from his work as a county prosecutor during the 1980s has gone missing.
The request to the attorney general's office followed a Times story that detailed varying accounts Trutanich has given about an incident in a South L.A. park in the mid-1980s while he was working on a murder case. His campaign says Trutanich was shot at by gang members who surrounded him in Green Meadows Park, but Trutanich did not mention being shot at or being surrounded during a 2008 deposition in which he was asked what had happened.
In response to a Times request for records about the incident, the district attorney's office said Trutanich's personnel file is one of many missing from that era and that its disappearance was first noted when Trutanich was running for city attorney.
"This statement is shocking," Trutanich wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times. "The fact that the district attorney’s office admitted to losing custody and control over my records is bad enough. The possibility that records have been removed, tampered with or stolen in the course of a political campaign merits your office’s immediate review."
A Trutanich campaign strategist did not return messages seeking comment about the letter. An attorney general's spokesman said his office had received the letter and would review its contents.
District attorney's officials notified Trutanich in a letter they made public Friday that they had been unable to find his personnel records after conducting searches in response to several requests dating back to 2008, when Trutanich was running for city attorney. A D.A.'s spokeswoman said Trutanich's personnel file is one of many missing from that era.
Trutanich's letter to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris also complained that Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has used his downtown county office to film a campaign video for his chief deputy, Jackie Lacey.
Trutanich and Lacey are among six candidates vying to replace Cooley in the June 5 election. The others are L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. John L. Breault III, Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace, Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson and Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers.
[Updated at 8:22 p.m.: Cooley said late Friday that he and the office had done nothing wrong and that he was supporting Trutanich for city attorney in 2008 when the DA's office first discovered that Trutanich's personnel file was missing.
"It's slanderous against the DA's office and against me," he said of Trutanich's allegations of "suspicious political activity. "They're trying to divert attention away from the story."
Cooley also said it was legal for him to film the campaign video in his office.]
-- Jack Leonard
Photo: L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times