Carmen Trutanich faces debt from failed run for district attorney

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich finds himself with as much as $112,000 in unpaid bills from his unsuccessful run for district attorney, a situation that could complicate his bid for reelection in March.

Trutanich failed to make the runoff in the June election for district attorney, a drubbing that prompted him to seek a second four-year term in office at City Hall. Yet even before he has begun raising money for a new campaign, the city’s top lawyer is grappling with a six-figure invoice left over from his countywide campaign, according to a report filed this week with the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk.

Former campaign consultant John Shallman billed Trutanich $112,000 for television ads that aired in the final weeks of the campaign. Trutanich is disputing that figure because he has not received backup documents that would justify the payment, said John Schwada, an unpaid Trutanich adviser.


“Mr. Trutanich is confident this matter will be resolved amicably in the near future,” Schwada said in a statement.

Reports filed by the Trutanich campaign earlier this week showed that he had more than $154,000 in campaign debt — money owed to lawyers, pollsters and others for the reporting period ending June 30. But Schwada said that as of Thursday, everyone but Shallman had been paid.

Candidates in the district attorney race cannot receive more than $1,500 from each donor during each election cycle. That means that if Trutanich winds up paying the full $112,000 — and does not want to spend his own money — he would need to find at least 75 separate donors to cover the cost.

Representatives of Shallman’s firm declined to comment. In a bitter split after the June election, Shallman opted to stick with the city attorney campaign of Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), who hired him several months ago under the expectation that Trutanich would now be in a district attorney runoff. Feuer has already raised $655,524, according to the most recent report.

Other candidates for city attorney include Senior Assistant City Atty. Eduardo Angeles, who has collected more than $67,174, and attorney Gregory Smith, who has raised $161,425. Smith predicted that Trutanich, who plans to form a reelection campaign committee next week, will find it difficult to raise money while dealing with his other financial obligations.

“Paying off that kind of debt is going to be a concern,” he said.

Trutanich disagreed, saying in an interview that the debt won’t be a problem.