Candidates debate role of outside spending in elections


Mayoral rivals Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti squared off over the role of outside spending in Los Angeles elections during a debate Monday night in Westwood.

Speaking before an audience of several hundred at Sinai Temple, Garcetti attacked Greuel for not agreeing to sign a pledge that would have required the candidates to give charities the equivalent of half of the money spent on their behalf by independent groups that can accept unlimited contributions. Garcetti called the $3.5 million spent on Greuel’s behalf by the union representing Department of Water and Power workers “a brand-new record to buy this race.”

Greuel noted that Garcetti also has benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent spending by his supporters, saying Garcetti wouldn’t be as critical if the union’s spending were benefiting him.


“It’s disingenuous to say he didn’t want their support,” said Greuel. She once again cited a 2009 email exchange that included Garcetti and Brian D’Arcy, the head of the utility workers’ union. In the emails, Garcetti suggests he may be willing to look into seeking a postponement of a hearing on a report critical of a union-backed ballot measure.

Greuel said Garcetti should have responded: “No, I would never do that.” Garcetti said he played no role in the delay of the hearing.

The debate was hosted by an alliance of neighborhood and community councils representing Brentwood, Venice, Pacific Palisades and other Westside neighborhoods.

Garcetti, who outpolled Greuel on the Westside in the primary election, had many supporters in the audience. He had a cheering section of current and former elected officials that included two defeated opponents in the March election: City Councilwoman Jan Perry and attorney Kevin James. Both have endorsed him.

But there were some undecided voters as well.

Robyn Arnold, 32, an elementary school teacher from Encino, said she has not made up her mind in the race but is leaning toward Greuel, in part because Greuel has a son enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District. “I’m looking for someone who has some type of connection to public schools,” Arnold said.

Nancy Cochran, 78, a Republican who lives in Brentwood, said she was leaning toward Garcetti because she believes he will be more independent of the utility workers’ union. “Probably his hands are going to be tied as well, but hopefully not as much as Greuel’s,” Cochran said.


She said she was turned off by all the money in the race. Of the $17.5 million collected to promote the candidates, she said, “Think what that could do for potholes!”