Rival files complaint over freeway sign promoting Trutanich
One of three challengers to Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich’s reelection bid has asked the City Ethics Commission to investigate a mysterious pro-Trutanich sign that popped up recently along a busy section of freeway in northeast Los Angeles.
The sign, which faces the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Glendale Boulevard, bears Trutanich’s likeness and urges his reelection but it does not indicate who is responsible for it.
A spokeswoman for the city commission said its policy is to neither confirm nor deny receiving any complaints, as its process for such matters is confidential.
Greg Smith, however, provided The Times with a copy of his complaint, which he said he filed Thursday after reading the newspaper’s story about the sign, which is essentially a new message covering a permitted, existing sign across the back of a commercial building on Riverside Drive.
The complaint asks the commission to investigate whether the sign violated state law because if fails to identify who provided it. It also suggests the Trutanich campaign may have illegally coordinated efforts with the sign poster.
The Trutanich campaign has said it knows nothing about the sign and no one has reported it as an “independent expenditure,” required in most cases once spending outside of a campaign reaches $1,000 or more. The principals in the company that own the building did not return phone calls seeking information.
In a cover letter to the commission, Smith implied that Trutanich, in office since 2009, has given higher priority to battling illegal billboards than to obtaining gang injunctions and noted that when Trutanich ran for district attorney last year, a judge ordered him to change his “misleading” ballot description.
“Greg Smith has spent his career blowing the whistle on government corruption and shenanigans,” the Smith campaign said in a statement about the complaint.
Smith, a private attorney, has won millions representing police officers and firefighters who have sued the city and other local governments in injury, discrimination and whistle-blower cases.
Others seeking to unseat Trutanich are Mike Feuer, a past city councilman and former member of the state Assembly, and attorney and activist Noel Weiss, known around City Hall for his land use battles.
Photo: A controversial sign promoting City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's reelection bid has popped up on a building along the 5 Freeway. Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times