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Carmen 'I am a liar' Trutanich

Editorial

In the race for L.A. city attorney, he pledged not to seek higher office. But that was then.

February 13, 2012
  • Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich announced Thursday that he is running for district attorney.
Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich announced Thursday that he is running…

There must be some mistake. We keep flipping through the pages of yesterday's Times, but we still can't find that full-page ad that City Atty. Carmen Trutanich pledged to buy in the event he broke his promise not to run for district attorney. He announced his candidacy on Thursday, and under the terms of the pledge he made when running for city attorney three years ago, the ad should have appeared in the paper on Sunday — but we still don't see it. It should be pretty easy to spot: He said it would have a large photo of him with the words "I AM A LIAR" in large block print. He also promised to pay $100,000 from his own pocket to L.A.'s Best, an after-school program. We expect him to keep his word.

OK, no we don't, and that's just the point. It's been clear for months, ever since Trutanich began compiling a campaign treasury that now exceeds $1 million, that his promise to focus on his job as city attorney and not seek higher office before completing two full terms was a bunch of bunk. He reneged on that commitment, and now his campaign spokesman is essentially making fun of anyone who was sucker enough to have thought he was serious and to try to hold him to his pledge.

See, everyone does it. Every politician, anyway. And one of the first clues that Trutanich was a politician was, or should have been, the fact that during his 2008-09 campaign, he kept saying, "I'm not a politician."

But Trutanich's promise was the centerpiece of his campaign. Los Angeles was just completing eight years with Rocky Delgadillo, whose tenure as city attorney was marked less by achievement and good lawyering than by personal ambition for higher office. Just days after winning a second term, Delgadillo announced that he wasn't really planning to serve as city attorney but was instead running for attorney general. Voters didn't need more of that — and many were swayed by Trutanich's assertion that his runoff opponent, Councilman Jack Weiss, was a climber and a short-termer in a similar vein. Trutanich promised that he would be no drive-by city attorney.

Now, here we are, several years later, and it turns out that Trutanich didn't even have the grace to complete his first term, much less start a second one, before pulling a Delgadillo.

He's one of at least seven candidates in the June 5 race, along with prosecutors Bobby Grace, Steve Ipsen, Alan Jackson, Jackie Lacey, Danette Meyers and Mario Trujillo, and this page will be sounding out all of them for their positions — and pledges, if they are moved to make them — on issues such as the "three strikes" law, alternative sentencing, public safety realignment, drug treatment and the death penalty. Trutanich's two broken promises don't automatically disqualify him in our eyes, but they don't help. He's dug himself into a hole, and we're not going to let him pretend that he hasn't.

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