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L.A. mayoral race rival accuses Greuel of campaigning on city time

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel, Kevin James and Jan Perry at a candidate debate in Sept. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Kevin James on Tuesday accused rival Wendy Greuel of unlawfully using her position as city controller to advance her campaign for mayor.

Greuel’s newly released appointment calendars, James said, show an alarming abundance of campaign meetings and events during business hours, often with city staff assigned to attend. Greuel has been “using her controller’s office as a front for her mayoral campaign,” James told reporters outside the City Hall annex where the controller works.

“If you review the city ethics code, you can find any number of violations as a result of these activities,” he said.

In response, Greuel campaign consultant Dave Jacobson denied any wrongdoing by the controller, saying she conducted herself in a manner no different from that of President Obama or any other elected official in campaign season.

“Talk about crime in City Hall,” he said. “Kevin James ought to be charged with reckless endangerment of the truth.”

The heated rhetoric demonstrated anew how James, an entertainment lawyer with a knack for attracting news cameras, poses a threat to Greuel’s candidacy in the March 5th mayoral primary.

A longtime cable TV talking head and radio talk-show host, James is using the media skills that he honed as a lawyer for such stars as Jennifer Aniston to try to block Greuel’s path to winning a spot in the May runoff. He hopes his ability to generate news coverage can offset the advertising that Greuel and other better-funded rivals can afford.

James, the only Republican in the race, argues that Greuel and two other mayoral contenders, City Council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, bear responsibility for the city’s poor fiscal condition and can’t be trusted to clean up what he characterized as corruption at City Hall.

His message is aimed largely at appealing to Republicans in the San Fernando Valley, an important part of Greuel’s political base. Greuel, a former Republican who registered as a Democrat in 1992, represented the Valley on the City Council for seven years.

“Kevin James is a two-bit political hack with a microphone,” Jacobson said. “Give him a camera, and he’s like a kid in a candy store. We don’t need a candidate who runs for office like he’s auditioning to be the next Rush Limbaugh.”

Greuel’s controller calendars, published Monday on the website of Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, show frequent campaign meetings and events on her city schedule. Staff from her city office were often listed as attending the meetings and events. Jacobson said that in every case, they did so voluntarily on their own time.

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-- Michael Finnegan

michael.finnegan@latimes.com
twitter.com/finneganlatimes

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel, right, Kevin James and Jan Perry at a candidates debate in September. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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