New twist in L.A. mayor's race: the 'People's Pledge'
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
Will the candidates for Los Angeles mayor sign the People’s Pledge?
Eric Garcetti would like to know.
At a mayoral forum in Sherman Oaks on Wednesday night, the city councilman and mayoral candidate surprised opponent Wendy Greuel when he asked her to agree to a pledge that he said would reduce the influence of special interests in the campaign.
The pledge, which is based on a pact signed in last year’s contentious U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, works like this: If an outside group advertises on behalf of a candidate, that candidate must donate half the money spent on the ads to charity.
After the debate, Greuel’s political consultants dismissed the pledge as a “gimmick.” But on Thursday morning, Garcetti’s campaign made it clear that he was serious about the proposal, sending out an email clarifying the terms of the pledge.
The email explained that it would go further than the one used in the Senate race. In that contest, where Democrat Elizabeth Warren unseated Republican Sen. Scott Brown, the candidates agreed to give 50% of the cost of television, radio or online ads purchased by outside groups.
The pledge proposed by the Garcetti campaign would add to the list money spent on mail advertising.
The pledge offer comes just days after a consultant working with a group of entertainment industry executives and labor unions announced that the group planned to spend money on behalf of Greuel’s campaign.
Greuel spokesman John Shallman said the timing of Garcetti's pledge offer shows his campaign's "desperation."
He questioned why Garcetti hadn't proposed the pledge earlier, like when an outside group spent money on newspaper ads promoting City Councilwoman Jan Perry, or when Republican operative Fred Davis announced he planned to spend millions of dollars on behalf of candidate Kevin James.
"We haven’t heard a peep about pledges from Councilman Garcetti for two years," Shallman said. "I just think it’s a hypocritical, political gimmick."
So, then, will Greuel be signing the pledge?
"Absolutely not," Shallman said, adding that “this isn't the people's pledge; it's the 'Eric Garcetti is afraid of Wendy Greuel' pledge.”
Perry and James could not be reached for comment Thursday.
According to the terms of the pledge, Garcetti will sign it only if the other candidates do, too.
Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti greets the audience at a mayoral candidate debate in September. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
[For the record, 2:34 p.m. Jan. 17: The caption on an earlier version of this post incorrectly said the photo was taken in September 2011.]