Earlier this week, former controller Laura Chick went after City Attorney Carmen Trutanich for being "a liar and a demagogue." Today, it's Bob Hertzberg's turn to take a few swings.
In an interview with the Weekly, Hertzberg accused Trutanich of "thuggery" for filing a lawsuit against his former campaign strategist, John Shallman (posted below). Hertzberg, the former Assembly speaker and onetime co-chair of Trutanich's transition team, had been trying to mediate a billing dispute arising from Trutanich's failed D.A. campaign. He said he was shocked that Trutanich went behind his back and filed suit without telling him.
"It's unethical behavior. It sickens me," Hertzberg said. "This is as low as it gets. It's all for gamesmanship. It's just not honest."
Wow. What is it about this guy that inspires such strong responses?
John Schwada, Trutanich's spokesman, fired back at Hertzberg in a strongly worded statement: "It sounds to me as if John Shallman and his representative, Bob Hertzberg, would like the public to believe that they're the injured party. No, they're not the injured party. Carmen Trutanich is the injured party. Carmen Trutanich is owed a complete accounting of the money he paid for this campaign."
The lawsuit, posted below, alleges that Shallman "grossly mismanaged and squandered campaign funds" during Trutanich's failed bid for D.A. The suit also claims that Trutanich lost due in part to Shallman's "negligence and missteps," and it goes on to claim that Shallman has failed to provide a full accounting for his billings.
In a statement, Trutanich said he filed the suit to give his contributors "an explanation of how my campaign consultant spent their hard-earned money."
"As it stands I cannot assure those supporters -- totaling more than 2000 persons -- that I know what happened to $1.8 million of their hard-earned money entrusted to me," Trutanich said in the statement, "nor do I feel confident that I can assure the official campaign finance authorities that I have a clear and accurate picture of how this money was spent."
In response, Shallman called Trutanich an "extortionist" and accused him of a "back-alley shakedown." Shallman also said that Trutanich owes him $166,000, which he said has been fully documented. He further alleged that Trutanich is trying to renege on that obligation by publicizing "false and vindictive attacks against me and my family."
"Well, the only way to deal with a thug is to stand up to him," Shallman said in his statement. "And that's what I intend to do. There is truly no depth too low for this man to stoop. He has no shame and is a disgrace to the City of Los Angeles."
(Shallman, by the way, is now running Mike Feuer's campaign to unseat Trutanich as city attorney. Who could have predicted that that would get ugly?)
Hertzberg said he was brought in within the last couple of weeks to try to work out a resolution without the need for a lawsuit. He said he had cordial conversations with Rick Taylor, Trutanich's new campaign manager, and he thought the negotiations were proceeding amicably.
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"If he had told me, 'I'm gonna sue,' and I knew it, that's one thing," Hertzberg said. "But we're talking graciously, and we traded information, and then he does this. It's morally wrong behavior to me. He not only stuck a finger in my eye. He stuck it in Rick's eye. It's a horrible judgment call at every level. He lost every confidence I had in him."
Steve Lowe, Trutanich's attorney, confirmed that Hertzberg was acting as a mediator, but said it "didn't seem like we were making any progress."
"There appear to be multiple discrepancies," Lowe said. "We really need to get to the bottom of it and make sure everything's on the up and up."
Trutanich Complaint Shallman