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Ex-controller calls Trutanich a 'liar,' says he 'must go'

September 25, 2012 |  2:16 pm

Carmen Trutanich

This post has been updated. See note below.

Former L.A. City Controller Laura Chick said in an open letter Tuesday that she didn't believe voters should support City Atty. Carmen Trutanich in his reelection bid, calling him a "liar and demagogue."

Chick, who supported Trutanich publicly in April 2009, said she believed "he'd be a breath of fresh air, who would cleanse the musty halls of power, and who would continue my own work of restoring honesty and integrity to the people's business."

"When I said that day, 'I think he’ll make an outstanding City Attorney,' I truly believed it," she wrote. "But it didn't take long for me to realize I had made a terrible mistake."

She accused Trutanich of stonewalling auditors in the city  controller's office, violating a pledge not to seek higher office and of taking "recent questionable actions in favor of campaign contributors," acts she said caused him to lose "faith with the people of Los Angeles."

It's not the first time Chick has called Trutanich a "liar and a demagogue."

In 2008, former City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo sued her, saying that she overstepped her authority when she attempted to audit his office’s handling of workers’ compensation programs. After he took office in 2009, Trutanich was blasted by Chick, who said he broke a campaign promise to drop the lawsuit and was a liar.

Trutanich responded by saying he would be happy to dismiss the case -- but not in a way that saddled taxpayers with the bill for the legal fees incurred by Chick and new Controller Wendy Greuel. Chick had asked the City Council three years ago for $100,000 to cover her lawyers' bills and was rebuffed. The 2nd District Court of Appeal dismissed the lawsuit.

In her letter Tuesday, she encouraged Los Angeles residents to do their "due diligence" before they cast their ballot in March.

"Once they do, I trust they will agree with me that Mr. Trutanich must go," she wrote.

After a failed bid to replace Steve Cooley as Los Angeles County district attorney, Trutanich began vying for a second four-year term as city attorney. In his three years in office, he has been praised for aggressively going after powerful special interests but has been criticized for his brash style and accused of being too harsh with political protesters and others.

Trutanich's office had no immediate comment.

[Updated 10 a.m., Sept. 26: Trutanich's campaign issued a response Tuesday that Trutanich agreed to dismiss the case, but only if taxpayers did not foot the bill for Chick's legal expenses. "She wasn't arguing for the principle of transparency, she was arguing for her own pocketbook," Trutanich's campaign spokesman John Schwada said.

More on his response can be read here: "Trutanich campaign fires back at criticism from ex-controller."]


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Photo: City Atty. Carmen Trutanich  Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times