Spending Cap for L.A. Mayoral Candidates Lifted

Times Staff Writers

Labor unions pumped enough money Friday into independent campaigns to support Mayor James K. Hahn’s reelection to trigger the lifting of the city’s spending limit for candidates.

The $2.2-million expenditure cap was eliminated after the union that represents city firefighters reported that it planned to spend $124,080 on a mailer urging that Hahn be elected to a second term.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. March 12, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 12, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Mayoral campaign -- An article in the Feb. 12 California section about donations in the Los Angeles mayoral campaign gave the name of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles as the Apartment Owners Assn. of Los Angeles.

Because the total planned independent expenditures for Hahn now exceed $200,000, all the candidates in the mayor’s race are free to spend as much money as they can raise before the March 8 election.


Hahn is the only immediate beneficiary of the move. The mayor, who has raised the most, had $2.4 million in his campaign treasury at the end of the last reporting period.

Kam Kuwata, a Hahn campaign consultant, said the mayor would now be able to use all of his resources to reach voters on television, through mailers and in other ways.

“Right now, we have a significant advantage in terms of dollars over the other candidates, so we’ll be able to communicate our message more thoroughly throughout the entire city,” Kuwata said.

So far, with less than four weeks to go before the election, unions and other groups have reported to the city Ethics Commission that they plan to spend $261,012 on independent campaigns. Of that, $215,544 is being spent to back Hahn, $29,295 for Councilman Bernard C. Parks, $13,994 for Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and $1,500 for former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.

In the 2001 mayoral race, independent expenditures, which are not subject to any limits, reached record levels. More than $1.9 million was spent by unions, developers, Indian tribes and other interest groups.

United Firefighters of Los Angeles City filed notice with the Ethics Commission late Friday that it planned to make the independent expenditure in support of Hahn. The union is headed by Pat McOsker, the brother of Hahn’s chief of staff, Tim McOsker. Another brother, Mike McOsker, is secretary of the firefighters union.


“Firefighters are very supportive of Jim Hahn. He’s been a great mayor,” Pat McOsker said. “We’d like to see him get four more years.”

Independent expenditures cannot be coordinated with candidates or their campaigns. “We are not coordinating in any way, shape, or form with the Hahn campaign.” McOsker said.

Earlier Friday, the Laborers Union, Local 300, reported that it was spending $45,000 on radio commercials to promote Hahn’s reelection.

In December, the mayor won the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the central labor council. Four years ago, Villaraigosa, a former Assembly speaker, had the backing of that local arm of the AFL-CIO when he ran unsuccessfully against Hahn.

Villaraigosa’s campaign manager, Ace Smith, said the councilman would now have to continue raising money to remain competitive. “We had hoped to have been done, but we have to keep on going now,” Smith said.

But Villaraigosa clearly anticipated that the spending limit would be lifted. This week, his campaign sent out a letter urging supporters to give more money in anticipation of the cap being raised.


“We have just reached the $2.251 million limit, as well, but now it appears that we must raise even more to make certain we can respond to sleazy independent expenditure attacks,” the letter said.

Hertzberg spokesman Matt Szabo called the independent expenditures that triggered the lifting of the spending limits “an arrogant disregard for our ethics laws.”

Kuwata said Hahn’s rivals “knew the rules. They just like to be whiners. They knew this was a possibility.”

The Apartment Owners Assn. of Los Angeles on Thursday reported that it had paid for almost $30,000 in radio ads to begin Monday supporting Parks, the city’s former police chief who is running for mayor.

On Friday, a tenants’ rights group, the Coalition for Economic Survival, warned tenants that Parks was an opponent of rent control.

In remarks to reporters after a campaign forum Friday at USC, the councilman denied favoring landlords over tenants.


“There is a fairness issue,” Parks said. “We cannot continue in this city running landlords out. There’s a balance in the discussion. Tenant rights groups cannot be the only voice about living in the city of Los Angeles.”