Looking to change the dynamics in a mayor's race that has her trailing, perhaps by double digits, Controller Wendy Greuel today launched a fresh assault on Councilman Eric Garcetti, calling on him to return contributions from a real estate developer who was convicted of fraud in the 1990s.
"I'm not sure what's more incredible," Greuel said in a statement, "the fact that Eric Garcetti took thousands of dollars from a convicted felon at a polo match or that he's been championing this convicted felon's development project before the City Council."
The Garcetti campaign responded that Greuel also voted for the Paseo Plaza project, as well as for the $190,000 in bonds needed to support it. (The project has since stalled.) The Garcetti campaign said it would not return the contributions from Ripinsky and his family, which total $10,000.
"As Eric Garcetti campaigns on his proven results revitalizing Hollywood and negotiating pension reform, Wendy Greuel's campaign is now a trash talking tour of hypocrisy and phony accusations," said Jeff Millman, Garcetti's spokesman, adding that Ripinsky's crime "happened more than 20 years ago when Greuel was a Republican staffer and Eric was in college."
Ripinsky did not return a call seeking comment. Ripinsky was sentenced to 4 years and three months in federal prison for his role in defrauding Independence Bank of Encino. The jury found that he and his partner took undisclosed finders' fees on purchases of real estate properties that they controlled. Ripinsky was released in 1998.
The Greuel campaign used the Ripinsky polo fundraiser to continue press its theme that Garcetti is "in it for himself" and "likes to play by his own rules." EMILY's List, a feminist organization supporting Greuel, hit on the same theme in a mailer sent out this week
accusing Garcetti of "putting himself first."
The mailer features a blonde starlet emerging from a limo, under the caption "Most Los Angeles families don't live like this." It faults Garcetti for taking free tickets to the Academy Awards, among other things.
On Tuesday, activist Marta Evry, a Garcetti supporter, launched an online petition
calling on EMILY's List to pull the ad because it uses "sexist imagery."
"This objectifies women," Evry said. "EMILY's List has no business doing that... What kind of message is that -- using that as an insult?"
Meanwhile, Greuel continues to spend heavily on TV commercials this week, putting another $700,000 into airtime as she seeks to shake up the race. Greuel has spent $1.4 million on TV over the last two weeks, which is almost all of the $1.5 million her campaign had in the bank as of Apr. 6. She has raised more since then, but it's not clear how she could maintain this pace of TV spending for the remaining three-plus weeks of the campaign.
Garcetti is also expected to launch his first TV commercial of the runoff on Wednesday, with a more modest buy of about $300,000, according to a source familiar with campaign TV spending.