Letters to the Editor: Rick Caruso’s culture of secrecy at USC would be disastrous for L.A.

Businessman Rick Caruso in a suit
Businessman Rick Caruso listens during a Los Angeles mayoral candidates’ debate at Bovard Auditorium at USC.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Contrary to the impression left by The Times, Rick Caruso’s governance of the USC Board of Trustees through recent scandals is not a reason to think he would make a good mayor of Los Angeles.

Repairing and rebuilding USC required both a public investigation into why the scandals happened and serious discussion of how to prevent their recurrence. Under Caruso’s leadership, there was no public accounting of the wrongs that were committed and no public examination of the institutional policies that appear to have enabled the scandals.

Caruso cleaned house in the wake of the scandals, but he did not clear the air, repair the harm and rebuild the institution. The many victims of USC’s misconduct were owed redress for the wrongs done to them, and the whole USC community was owed an accounting what went wrong, why it went wrong and what will be done to prevent such scandals in the future.


To top it off, Caruso’s secrecy was ineffective litigation strategy. Plaintiffs’ lawyers dug the facts up by themselves, and whatever it was they found was damning enough to cause USC to settle the two class-actions involving disgraced campus gynecologist George Tyndall for a whopping $1.1 billion.

The effect of USC’s refusal to conduct and publicize its own investigation was not to thwart the lawsuits brought by the victims of these scandals, but to create a situation where all the rest of us have very good reason to suspect that the university’s conduct was worse than we know.

Los Angeles does not need a mayor whose response to a scandal is to let the victims and the citizenry figure out for themselves what went wrong. It needs a mayor who will expose scandals to the disinfecting light of public examination.

Greg Keating, Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of law and philosophy at USC.


To the editor: When I first saw the profile concerning Rick Caruso, I steeled myself for yet another article replete with one-dimensional references to him as a “billionaire.”

Instead, I found a well-researched and balanced article focusing on his work at USC. Kudos to reporters Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan for this substantive piece of journalism.

Sandra Harris, Pasadena


To the editor: Los Angeles deserves a mayor for the people. Caruso will be a mayor for the rich.

It amazes me that The Times all but casts Caruso as the superhero who saved USC. Should we just anoint him mayor?

Caruso’s coziness with the elites is a bad fit and a potential problem. The poor optics of Lori Laughlin’s and Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter vacationing on Caruso’s yacht in the Bahamas because she is friends with Caruso’s daughter is evidence enough that we don’t need him at the helm for all of Los Angeles.

Peter David Harris, Los Angeles