A strategist for City Attorney Carmen Trutanich launched a broadside against Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey on Thursday night, accusing her of making a "swiftboat attack" in the campaign for D.A.
John Shallman, Trutanich's strategist, appeared on Fox's Studio 11 L.A. He was asked about a May 11 story in the L.A. Times that questioned Trutanich's claim to have been attacked by gang members when he was a prosecutor in 1985.
"It's a swiftboat attack on Carmen Trutanich propagated by his chief opponent, the chief deputy district attorney in Los Angeles," Shallman said.
In response, Lacey's strategist said the Lacey campaign was not responsible for planting the Times story.
"It's patently false," said Parke Skelton. "We have no idea where it came from. Jackie had no idea about anything about the story until she read it in the paper."
In fact, there is strong reason to believe that prosecutor Alan Jackson, another candidate, was responsible for the story.
If Trutanich was in fact attacked by gang members in 1985, there should be some record of it in his D.A. personnel file. Several months before the Times' story broke, Jackson's campaign manager, John Thomas, twice requested the file from the D.A.'s office. Two months after that, the Times' reporter, Jack Leonard, also requested the file. Both were told that it could not be located. (Thomas declined to comment on the request.)
The Trutanich campaign is aware that Jackson's campaign manager tried to dig up Trutanich's 1980s personnel records, because that information was included in a letter the D.A.'s office sent to Trutanich on May 11. There is no indication that anyone with the Lacey campaign made a similar request.
So why not attack Jackson, who seems the much more likely culprit?
"If I were them, I would rather face Jackson (in November)," Skelton said. "This is a Democratic county."
The thinking goes like this. Lacey is a Democrat, Jackson is a Republican, and Trutanich is an independent. If Trutanich faces Jackson in the fall, he can run to the left and consolidate Democratic votes. But if Trutanich faces Lacey, she could be better positioned to win over the county's Democratic majority.
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Thomas, Jackson's campaign manager, doesn't buy it. He counters that Trutanich is attacking Lacey because he wants to raise her profile, because he wants to face her in the fall. Thomas contends that Jackson is the more formidable, tough-on-crime candidate.
Either way, the Trutanich campaign certainly seems to have made a strategic decision to focus its attacks on Lacey, and to ignore Jackson.
On Fox 11, Shallman also attacked Lacey for her conflicting testimony in a dispute with the prosecutors' union. That testimony was first reported here in December 2010, and recently detailed in the Times. Shallman continued that attack in an interview with the Weekly on Friday.
"She lied under oath... That's the most egregious problem for a candidate for district attorney," Shallman said. "We're happy to take that on. That's a dream opponent for us."