Two men with little previous connection to L.A. politics are putting six-figure sums into the race for mayor in the final week of the campaign.
John Arnold, a retired Enron trader who made billions running a Houston-based hedge fund, gave $200,000 to the committee supporting Kevin James.
More oddly, Dr. Feliciano Serrano reported spending $151,630 on an independently produced commercial — starring him — endorsing Wendy Greuel.
Which raises the obvious question: Who the heck is he?
Serrano is a doctor in Huntington Park, where he specializes in kidney disease and vascular ailments. Here's his commercial, coming soon to a TV set near you:
Still a lot of unanswered questions about this one. Serrano spoke briefly with the Weekly today, but did not have time to answer questions about why he's getting involved in the mayoral race.
“I've got a busy day,” he said. “I have surgery to do.”
Serrano's previous involvement in city affairs appears to be limited to a $50,000 contribution to build a statue of Antonio Aguilar, a Mexican singer and actor, at La Placita Olvera downtown. The statue was a pet cause for Councilman Jose Huizar, who is backing Greuel. But that doesn't quite explain everything.
John Arnold's contribution is a little easier to figure. Arnold is a major supporter of President Barack Obama, according to campaign finance records, as well as other Democratic campaigns and committees. That doesn't explain why he would support Kevin James, the only Republican in the mayor's race.
Arnold's philanthropic website offers a few more clues, however. Seems Arnold is a big supporter of pension reform and education reform — two issues that James has campaigned on.
Arnold's contribution couldn't come at a better time for the Better Way L.A. committee, which is supporting James' candidacy. The committee had a dismal recent fundraising period, and had just $63,530 in the bank on Feb. 16. Arnold's contribution went immediately into a TV ad buy.
To date, Greuel has benefited from $2.4 million in independent spending, most of which comes from Working Californians, the IBEW-backed independent committee. James has had $488,000 worth of independent spending support.
Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry have had negligible independent backing — though Garcetti is expected to get substantial support should he make the runoff.