Carmen Trutanich: From ‘People’s Lawyer’
To ‘Enemy of the People in Just Three Years’
KPFK (90.7 FM) news and talk host Sonali Kolhatkar invited me to talk about the District Attorney’s race at 8 a.m. Thursday, specifically about the record of Carmen Trutanich as LA City Attorney and the District Attorney’s race. (LISTEN HERE)
Just to check up on on all the details of why I turned from being an early and ardent supporter of Trutanich and now feel he has betrayed his private and public promises to stand up for the “people” while becoming nothing but a tool of LA’s failing political machine, I spent half an hour googling around.
Here’s what I found about a man who is your classic bully-coward (why else would he have a sign in his office reading: “The strong do as they will, the weak do as they must.”? He would be a dangerous District Attorney, trashing the law and civil liberties on whims and fancies:
Conservative commentator Larry Elder put the former Republican down this way this week: ‘‘No one should run for higher office if they’re going to make stuff up – you get found out!”
Lying is one of the main charges leveled against “Nuch” by his challengers Jackie Lacey, Alan Jackson,
In 2009, Trutanich campaigned against the widely despised Councilman Jack Weiss with a promise “to prosecute misdemeanor ethics violations by politicians,” as he told Sherman Oaks homeowners as reported here. “We’re going to change the way politics is played in the City of Los Angeles.”
To date, he has not prosecuted a single City Hall corruption case and is now little more than a rubber stamp for just about everything the mayor and City Council want to do.
He challenged Weiss to sign his pledge that they would both serve the full two terms as City Attorney, vowing to take out a full page ad in the Times and donate $100,000 to LA’s Best after-school program if he broke his promise. Challenger Alan Jackson called him a “liar” — a label that has stuck.
To date, he has not taken out the ad or donated the money.
In January, Trutanich falsely claimed several law enforcement organizations as supporters and was forced to apologize and remove the groups.
In February, Trutanich claimed “broad support…from a vast online and grass-roots audience” based on 700,000 hits on his “Tru Stories” video on youtube but was forced to admit he paid a marketing firm to generate many of those views.
Another promotional video told the story of how he was a shooting victim as a young county prosecutor cracking down on gangs — a story that has no backing in remembrances of others involved. He pleaded for Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate why his personnel files were missing — a demand that was dismissed as laughable.
He claimed a ballot designation of “Los Angeles chief prosecutor” but a judge ruled that was false and misleading.
From his bull-in-the-china-shop feeble threats to jail AEG’s Tim Leiweke over costs of the Michael Jackson funeral and Councilwoman Jan Perry over his assault on advertising signs, Trutanich got off to a clumsy start.
The mayor and Council were enemies and tore into his budget and tripped him up at every turn. He response eventually came to beg for mercy and surrender any pretext at independence even as he continued to assault civil liberties wherever he saw them — mostly without success.
The best story did on Trutanich was in the LA Weekly in February by Gene Maddaus under this headline and key paragraphs:
Carmen Trutanich, L.A. City Attorney, Tramples the Rights of Pot Smokers, Street Artists and Protesters
Carmen Trutanich came into office vowing to “throw politics out the front door.” But in almost three years as city attorney, he has repeatedly sought jail time for minor offenses that align with his political crusades. He’s pursued sign installers like Mark Denny. He’s tried to jail people who sell medical marijuana. He’s gone after street artists and political demonstrators. At a time when most policymakers are trying to reduce the jail population, Trutanich’s impulse is to lock ’em up.
Such high-profile crusades have become part of his sales pitch now that the 60-year-old Trutanich is running for district attorney. But the truth is that he has largely failed in his efforts to lock people up for these nuisance crimes — even as the manpower he’s devoted to them has left fewer resources for more important cases. Records show, for example, that the City Attorney’s Office under Trutanich has cut back on pursuing gang injunctions — a critical component of public safety — and has prosecuted far fewer gang cases than his predecessor
Trutanich’s critics point out that, while his office is limited to prosecuting misdemeanors, he’s been obsessed with enhancing his powers. He launched a Bureau of Investigation to pursue his own cases, rather than wait for local law enforcement to bring him its handiwork. He tried to get the Legislature to give him control of a criminal grand jury. And, in a little-noticed move, he got state law rewritten to let his investigators eavesdrop electronically.
Acting like Elliot Ness of the “Untouchable” he has tried to “eradicate” medical marijuana dispensaries, jailed a Hollywood property owner on $1 million bail for allowing a supergraphics sign on his building, persecuted graffiti artists even as the Geffen Contemporary had long lines at its “Art in the Streets” exhibition, sought one-year jail sentences for non-violent political protesters in 2010 and charged 50 Occupy LA demonstrators criminally while demanding a couple hundred others pay $375 to watch a video on their First Amendment rights to avoid jail.
The result is the mainstream media and the blogosphere are unanimously opposed to Trutanich as District Attorney, preferring Chief Deputy DA Jackie Lacey (DA Steve Cooley’s choice) and Deputy DA Alan Jackson while other county prosecutors — John Breault, Bobby Grace and Danette Myers — all have their supporters.
Still, with more money from special interests, more name recognition and endorsements from Sheriff Lee Baca (presumably looking for cover over criminal investigations of his department) and Gov. Jerry Brown (presumably because of some really bad advice), Trutanich could win it all on Tuesday.