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Memo Fallout: John Shallman Calls Carmen Trutanich "The Kim Jong-Il of L.A. Politics"

Carmen Trutanich (l), and Kim Jong-Il
Carmen Trutanich (l), and Kim Jong-Il

Grab some popcorn, because Carmen Trutanich and John Shallman are fighting again. Shallman, you'll recall, is the political consultant who steered Trutanich's D.A. campaign onto the rocks. Trutanich is the city attorney now suing Shallman to avoid paying $165,000 in bills leftover from that campaign. He's also running for re-election against Mike Feuer, whose campaign manager is John Shallman.

So: plenty of bad blood, but what's stirring it up today is the release of a 9-page memo (posted below, and first released by Mayor Sam), in which Shallman largely blamed Trutanich for his own defeat and encouraged him not to run for re-election.


In the memo, dated June 12, Shallman blamed Trutanich for "fixating on issues that voters don't care about, or are turned off by," like going after political demonstrators, pot shops and billboards. Shallman also faulted Trutanich for a lack of discipline, especially for failing to set aside up to 30 hours each week to raise money. As a result, he said, Trutanich fell short of his fundraising goals, leaving him without enough cash for an effective TV campaign.

Shallman also argued that Trutanich was so badly damaged by the defeat that he would be unable to beat Mike Feuer in the race for re-election. "The L.A. press will be delighted to have Carmen Trutanich to kick around for another nine months," Shallman wrote. Instead, Shallman suggested that Trutanich follow the model of Jimmy Carter and start a philanthropic foundation. He also argued that stepping down with dignity would make it easier for Nick Trutanich, his son, to seek political office.

Trutanich did not take Shallman's advice, and they ended their professional relationship. Trutanich's new consultant, Rick Taylor, argued that Shallman had a glaring conflict of interest when he wrote the memo, namely that he was also representing Feuer. Clearly, it would be in Feuer's best interests if Trutanich were to withdraw from the race.

"Think about how ridiculous this is. This guy had two clients in the same race," Taylor said. "It's immoral... He's such a piece of garbage. Mike Feuer should be scared to have a consultant who will backstab his client. This is a lowlife of all lowlifes."

In a statement, Shallman confirmed the authenticity of the memo, and said it was his sincere advice, and "it had absolutely nothing to do with any other client."

Shallman also took the opportunity to apologize to the citizens of Los Angeles for managing Trutanich's successful 2009 campaign for city attorney:

I apologize to the City of Los Angeles for Carmen Trutanich. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein who, in his attempt to do good, created a monster and unleashed it on an unsuspecting populace, a monster who has morphed into the Kim Jong-Il of L.A. politics. This monster uses the law as a weapon--not a tool. He cracks down on peaceful protesters and street artists. He bullies and threatens cancer patients seeking relief from medical marijuana--rather than using that energy to go after violent gang members as he promised me and the citizens of Los Angeles. The fact is, Trutanich believes normal societal rules do not apply to him. He's dangerous, delusional and must be stopped. I helped create this mess and now it's my responsibility to clean it up. The memo was my first attempt at doing so, but obviously it won't be my last.

Asked for a response, Taylor said that he had never said anything remotely that bad about a former client in 40 years of political consulting. "That's a bad man," he said. "That's a bad human being."

Also today, the Weekly obtained Trutanich's polling numbers from the D.A. race, which showed that Trutanich was indeed the frontrunner before the campaign began, though none of the candidates were especially well known. Even 10 days before the election, he still had a lead -- though rivals Alan Jackson and Jackie Lacey were gaining, and most voters remained undecided. Lacey carried her momentum to a first-place finish, while Jackson eked into second, leaving Trutanich out of the runoff.

Feb 2011 (16 mos. before election, incl. leaners)
Trutanich 15
Trujillo 7
Lacey 6
Jackson 5
Meyers 1

March 2012 (2 mos. before election, incl. leaners)
Trutanich 19
Jackson 7
Meyers 5
Lacey 4

May 2012 (10 days before election, incl. leaners)
Trutanich 18
Jackson 11
Lacey 10
Meyers 3

June 2012 (election result)
Lacey 32
Jackson 24
Trutanich 22
Meyers 13

Shallman Trutanich Memo

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