Wendy Greuel's Oil Attack Comes From Strategist John Shallman's Playbook

It's getting into the final days of the primary campaign for L.A. mayor, which means it's time for the campaigns to start slinging whatever mud they can find.

Today, Controller Wendy Greuel held a press conference to attack Eric Garcetti for holding a Venoco oil lease in Beverly Hills that pays him $1.25 a year. The attack bore the hallmarks of her campaign strategist, John Shallman, who has a track record of attacking opponents by linking them -- however tenuously -- to the oil industry.

In a 2011 congressional race, Shallman beat up on Debra Bowen for accepting oil contributions -- even though Shallman's own client, Janice Hahn, had taken far more money from oil companies, even after pledging not to.

"The pattern with Shallman is simply deception, whether hypocrisy or other brands of deception," said Steve Barkan, who was Bowen's campaign consultant, and who is unaffiliated in the mayoral campaign. 

In the congressional race, Bowen had the backing of the Sierra Club and was generally seen as the more environmentally friendly candidate. Shallman put out a mailer attacking her for taking money from DeMenno Kerdoon, a World Oil subsidiary, in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Hahn had taken money from DeMenno Kerdoon the previous month.

This time around, Garcetti has the Sierra Club's backing. Greuel, meanwhile, has received more than $1.5 million in support from a group funded by IBEW Local 18, the Department of Water and Power union, which has a history of opposing or dragging its feet on green energy initiatives.

In addition, Greuel has also accepted thousands of dollars from oil companies in her various campaigns, including $3,000 from Chevron for her first race for City Council. Occidental Petroleum has contributed the maximum $1,300 to Greuel's race for mayor. (Occidental has not given to Garcetti, though the firm's chairman, Ray Irani, has given him $1,300.) Greuel also took $250 in 2009 from a Venoco lobbyist.

Those figures dwarf the amount that Garcetti has received for mineral rights related to his grandfather's Beverly Hills retail space. By the terms of the lease (posted below), Garcetti gets $1.25 per year from Venoco. At a press conference today, Garcetti pulled five quarters out of his pocket to demonstrate how trivial the amount is.

Garcetti also said that no oil has been drilled under the property, nor will it ever be. Beverly Hills has imposed a 2016 sunset on oil drilling.

"There is one candidate in this campaign who is focused on cleaning up the environment, and there is one who is focused on flinging mud," Garcetti said at the press conference.

Speaking of which, Working Californians -- the IBEW-funded group -- began airing this TV commercial today attacking Garcetti for taking trips to five-star hotels and driving city-owned cars.

Hard to believe, but this is the first negative TV spot in the race (other than this one). Probably won't be the last.

Jeff Millman, Garcetti's spokesman, had this to say about the ad: "The DWP union is a bunch of hypocrites because Wendy Greuel has done the same things they're attacking Eric for. In fact, the DWP union would like the voters to forget that Greuel served on the City Council for 7 years herself and while on the Council she voted every time for Eric Garcetti to be the President of the City Council.

The DWP union is supporting Wendy Greuel because they know she will increase DWP salaries and pensions, and L.A. residents will have to pay for it."

Eric Hacopian, Jan Perry's strategist, said the attacks from Greuel and the IBEW show that both are concerned about whether she can make it to the runoff. 

"That they're lashing out today is the best telltale sign that they're fearful of what's going to happen on Tuesday," Hacopian said. "They're haunted by the fear of finishing third."

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