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Greuel steps up attacks on Garcetti in L.A. mayor's race

Controller Greuel criticizes a fundraiser for Garcetti that was co-hosted by a convicted felon. Councilman Garcetti's spokesman fires back.

April 23, 2013|By Catherine Saillant and James Rainey, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, right, makes a point during Monday's debate with rival Eric Garcetti at USC's Health Sciences Campus.
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, right, makes a point during… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles mayoral hopeful Wendy Greuel stepped up attacks on rival Eric Garcetti on Tuesday, repeating ethical accusations brought up at Monday night's televised debate and adding a new one — that Garcetti accepted thousands in donations at a fundraiser hosted by an ex-felon.

Greuel, the city's controller, called the media to her Boyle Heights campaign office to reiterate recent attacks against Garcetti that she says call into question his ability to lead a city as large and complex as Los Angeles. Her latest critique revolves around a May 2012 fundraiser in Pacific Palisades co-hosted on Garcetti's behalf by real estate developer Juri Ripinsky.

In 1993, Ripinsky and two associates were charged with 21 counts of federal bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering related to the collapse of Independence Bank of Encino in the San Fernando Valley. Greuel's campaign said Ripinsky was convicted and served nearly four years in prison.

Greuel said she found it "incredible" that Garcetti, a city councilman, took donations "from this convicted felon" during the fundraiser, which was held at a polo match at Will Rogers State Historic Park.

"He donated the maximum amount and bundled other donations to Mr. Garcetti," Greuel said.

"I don't know what's more incredible — the fact that he took thousands of dollars from this convicted felon at a polo match or that he's been championing this convicted felon's development project before the City Council."

Ripinsky and his family gave $5,842.50 to Garcetti, including $842.50 for catering at the party, records show. Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said Greuel fails to mention that she, too, backed Ripinksy's Paseo Hollywood project when she was on the City Council.

"As Eric Garcetti campaigns on his proven results revitalizing Hollywood and negotiating pension reform, Wendy Greuel's campaign is now a trash-talking tour of hypocrisy and phony accusations," Millman said. "While she criticizes this developer for something that happened more than 20 years ago when Greuel was a Republican staffer and Eric was in college, she failed to mention she supported the developer's project and voted for it twice on the City Council."

Greuel in recent days has hit Garcetti on a number of fronts, including 13 ethics violations for free tickets he accepted and his belated disclosure that he has an interest in Venoco, an oil concern that is drilling underneath Beverly Hills High School.

In separate events, both candidates also touched on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's newly released budget that shows no deficit in the coming year — as long as the next mayor is successful in getting city workers to agree to roll back a 5.5% raise promised to them.

Greuel said she agreed with Villaraigosa about "the importance of looking forward to balancing our budget and that those raises come at a time when we can't afford it." However she stopped short of saying she would force the issue with employees.

Garcetti, answering questions in Silver Lake, where he appeared with small-business owners supporting his candidacy, said the fate of the pay raise is not something he would "negotiate in the press," but he said he was cognizant of the need to eliminate a structural deficit he pegged at $100 million to $150 million.

"These are raises that we pushed forward a number of years that are legally due," Garcetti said, "so it will require negotiation to pull them back. But we still do have a deficit. It is about 90% less than what was projected because of the work that I led on pension reform."

catherine.saillant@latimes.com

james.rainey@latimes.com

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