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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Primary left Parks campaign in debt

August 06, 2008|Jean-Paul Renaud

The two top candidates for an open seat on the county Board of Supervisors emerged from their primary election contest having spent a combined $2.1 million reaching out to voters.

But overshadowing that, observers said Tuesday, is the debt that Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks accrued in his campaign against state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles).

Campaign finance reports released this week show Parks entering the general election with a $388,000 debt, which observers say could be a sign of a campaign in trouble. Ridley-Thomas, aided by about $4.5 million from an independent expenditure committee backed by unions, finished ahead of Parks in the primary.

Parks' chief strategist, John Shallman, said the campaign is "not worried" about money.

"Since the close of the financial reporting period five weeks ago," Shallman wrote in an e-mail to The Times, "money has already been raised to retire the debt."

In total, Parks raised a little more than $1 million and spent about $1.3 million between Jan. 1 and June 30. Ridley-Thomas, who edged out Parks 45% to 40% during the primary, raised $878,000 and spent $852,000.

"We've been working very hard and I think the results show," Ridley-Thomas said.

A large portion of Parks' debt is owed to Shallman, who has not been paid $131,000 for campaign fliers and consulting, according to the reports.

Another $121,700 is owed to California Litho-Arts for campaign literature, according to campaign records.

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