Laura Chick and Carmen Trutanich Reignite 3-Year-Old Controversy Over Controller's Audit Powers

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Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 6:49 PM
click to enlarge Can't you see you're perfect for each other?
  • Can't you see you're perfect for each other?

For some reason, Laura Chick and Carmen Trutanich decided to get into a big fight today over an issue that was settled three years ago.

Chick, the former city controller, has hated Trutanich ever since he reneged on a pledge to drop a lawsuit against her office in 2009. Today, she penned an "Open Letter to the People of Los Angeles," calling him a "liar and a demagogue" and warning voters not to be duped into re-electing him.

Well, it could only go uphill from there, right?

Trutanich's spokesman, John Schwada, then fired off this response: "It is a huge surprise that Laura Chick of all people is

bringing up this 4-year-old controversy because her own conduct in it

was so disgraceful."

A brief summary of this episode: Chick wanted to audit the City Attorney's office. The city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, sued her to prevent that from happening. Chick endorsed Trutanich to succeed Delgadillo, in part because he said he would drop the suit. Once in office, he changed his mind, which left Chick on the hook for her attorneys' fees. Trutanich did, however, allow the audit to go forward. (It showed "poor oversight" of the workers compensation division.)

Schwada garbled the narrative a little bit in his statement to the Times: "As city controller she sued the city, she lost and then she wanted the city to pick up her attorney's fees," Schwada said.

That gave Chick an opening to fire back:

"Having been covered by John Schwada when he was on Fox, I am accustomed to him getting the facts wrong. Let me correct him again. I did not sue the City as he claims in his statement; the City Attorney sued me to bar me from doing my job.The fees were for defending the taxpayers in the case. Carmen Trutanich pledged that he would support the Controller's right to conduct audits in city elected officials' offices. Then he reneged when he became City Attorney. End of story."
"I did make a slight error," Schwada acknowledged. However, he said, "She did initiate the dispute" -- by issuing the subpoenas.

In his statement, Schwada said that it was Trutanich, not Chick, who was defending the taxpayers:
When she asked Trutanich to dismiss

the case (and by doing so allow her attorney to be awarded fees from the city), Trutanich said he would

not. He told her his job was to protect the taxpayers, not soak them. Chick's reply, according to Trutanich

and others in the room, was that picking up her attorney Fred Woocher's legal fees "will not break the

bank" -- meaning the city's treasury.

That's a deliciously callous and ironic remark coming out of the mouth of Chick, then city controller,

whose job was to protect the city's pocketbook. Does Laura Chick deny asking for that special favor

from Trutanich?

In her letter, the full text of which is after the jump, Chick cites several other reasons not to vote for Trutanich: "violating his pledge not to seek higher office, reneging on his debt to L.A.'s BEST" and "questionable actions in favor of campaign contributors."

But it's the lawsuit thing that really burns -- even three years later.

So why is this coming up now? Chick is a co-chair of Mike Feuer's campaign for city attorney. In his statement, Schwada called her letter "the obvious stuff of political shenanigans."

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