MAYOR’S D.C. TRIP COMES UN­DER SCRU­TINY

Garcetti at­tended a re­cep­tion for his 2017 re­elec­tion ef­fort.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Jami­son

As Los An­ge­les braced for a rul­ing last week in the high-pro­file po­lice shoot­ing of a men­tally ill black man, Mayor Eric Garcetti hopped on a plane to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, say­ing he needed to talk to White House of­fi­cials about com­mu­nity polic­ing and fund­ing for home­less­ness pro­grams.

“I will never stop go­ing to Washington for the rea­sons that I was there,” Garcetti later told re­porters when asked about the wis­dom of leav­ing town a day be­fore the city po­lice com­mis­sion took up of­fi­cers’ con­tro­ver­sial shoot­ing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford. “I’ll con­tinue fight­ing for this city.”

But the mayor wasn’t in D.C. solely to seek money for his city. In ad­di­tion to two short meet­ings with Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, Garcetti at­tended a re­cep­tion for his re­elec­tion ef­fort hosted by one of the Demo­cratic Party’s most prom­i­nent fundrais­ers, The Times has learned.

Harold Ickes — a vet­eran po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive and for­mer top cam­paign and White House aide to Pres­i­dent Clin­ton — said in an in­ter­view that the mayor was at his home in Georgetown

on the evening of Mon­day, June 8, for a fundrais­ing event for Garcetti’s 2017 cam­paign.

Ickes said the re­cep­tion lasted about two hours and had be­tween 40 and 50 guests, each of them asked to do­nate $1,300, the max­i­mum in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tion un­der L.A.’s cam­paign fi­nance lim­its.

Garcetti did not dis­close the fundraiser last week de­spite re­peated ques­tions from re­porters and ac­tivists about why he took a cross­coun­try trip as black com­mu­nity lead­ers awaited a de­ci­sion in Ford’s case. The rev­e­la­tions could in­ten­sify ques­tions in some quar­ters about whether the mayor has kept too low a public pro­file in the shoot­ing.

Garcetti and his sup­port­ers have ar­gued that he is pur­su­ing mean­ing­ful pol­icy re­forms for the po­lice depart­ment — such as body cam­eras for all of­fi­cers — but does not want to in­ject pol­i­tics into the city’s process for ad­ju­di­cat­ing po­lice shoot­ings. But crit­ics, in­clud­ing Ford’s mother, have said Garcetti hasn’t been a vis­i­ble enough fig­ure in the de­bate over polic­ing and race re­la­tions.

Melina Ab­dul­lah, a pro­fes­sor of Pan-African Stud­ies at Cal State L.A., said the mayor’s at­ten­dance at a po­lit­i­cal fundraiser “ab­so­lutely con­tra­dicts” the ex­pla­na­tion for his D.C. trip he gave her and other de­mon­stra­tors out­side his house last week.

“He told us he was go­ing to Washington to get money for the sort of re­sources we need for the black com­mu­nity,” Ab­dul­lah said. Rais­ing money for his cam­paign “speaks to his place­ment of am­bi­tion and ego ahead of the in­ter­ests of an im­por­tant por­tion of his con­stituency,” she said.

Bill Car­rick, a con­sul­tant for Garcetti’s 2017 cam­paign, ac­knowl­edged that Ickes held the fundraiser. Garcetti spokesman Jeff Mill­man said this week that the cam­paign paid for the trip, but that the mayor would not be com­ment­ing fur­ther on his time in Washington.

“We’ve said ev­ery­thing we have to say on it,” Mill­man said. “We’ve given you the sched­ule and we said what he did.”

Garcetti left L.A. early Mon­day morn­ing and re­turned Tues­day on an overnight f light. He was back in town Tues­day when the po­lice com­mis­sion de­ter­mined that one of the two LAPD of­fi­cers who fa­tally shot Ford last sum­mer was not jus­ti­fied in us­ing deadly force. Later that day, Garcetti met with Ford’s mother, who praised the mayor for fi­nally reach­ing out to her but said the meet­ing came “10 months late.” Af­ter­ward, the mayor held a news con­fer­ence at which he spoke ad­mir­ingly of Tri­to­bia Ford’s “quest for jus­tice” for her son

May­oral aides re­fused last week to pro­vide de­tails about what Garcetti did dur­ing his trip. Mill­man said such in­for­ma­tion would have to be re­viewed by an at­tor­ney be­fore it could be re­leased.

On Fri­day, Mill­man is­sued a cal­en­dar for the mayor’s ac­tiv­ity in Washington on June 8 that in­cluded just two ap­point­ments: A meet­ing with White House Di­rec­tor of In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs Jerry Abram­son from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and with Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get Di­rec­tor Shaun Dono­van from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

In a brief in­ter­view last week, Garcetti said he of­fered Abram­son’s of­fice feed­back on LAPD ini­tia­tives for the Pres­i­dent’s Task Force on 21st Cen­tury Polic­ing. The task force, which Pres­i­dent Obama es­tab­lished last De­cem­ber, is so­lic­it­ing in­for­ma­tion from across the coun­try about best prac­tices in law en­force­ment. In the meet­ing with Dono­van, Garcetti said, he sought ad­di­tional fund­ing to ad­dress home­less­ness in L.A.

White House of­fi­cials said the meet­ings with Garcetti in­volved “a range of im­por­tant pri­or­i­ties, in­clud­ing vet­er­ans’ home­less­ness, cli­mate change and com­mu­nity polic­ing.”

Af­ter his June 8 White House meet­ings, the mayor said, “I did see friends on the — be­fore I went to the air­port, for a mo­ment.”

Garcetti de­clined to say last week whether he had en­gaged in fundrais­ing for his cam­paign in D.C.

“We don’t ever dis­cuss cam­paign fundrais­ing stuff, but you can cer­tainly ask the cam­paign about that,” he said, adding “that’s a set pol­icy and it’s not me be­ing what­ever.”

Mill­man said that the mayor was not re­fer­ring to the Ickes fundraiser when he spoke about see­ing friends, but to a so­cial en­gage­ment that fell af­ter­ward.

The day be­fore the po­lice com­mis­sion acted, a small group of protesters blocked the mayor’s car as he tried to drive to the air­port for his flight east.

In an ex­change that was caught on video and posted on the In­ter­net, one demon­stra­tor said, “Black peo­ple are dy­ing.”

Garcetti re­sponded, “I know that. I’m go­ing to D.C. ... ex­actly for that rea­son, ac­tu­ally. I’m go­ing to the Jus­tice Depart­ment.”

He also sug­gested the city could lose “$15 mil­lion for home­less­ness, if I don’t make this plane.”

Ickes, who also held a fundraiser for Garcetti’s 2013 may­oral cam­paign, said that last week’s re­cep­tion had been planned sev­eral months in ad­vance at the mayor’s re­quest.

“He knocked on the door again, and we were per­fectly happy to do it,” Ickes said.

In his re­marks to guests at the fundraiser, Garcetti didn’t dis­cuss Ford’s shoot­ing at length, Ickes said — although he hinted that he had to re­turn to Los An­ge­les promptly be­cause of a po­lice-re­lated con­tro­versy.

“He said there were is­sues that he had to get back and deal with, but he didn’t go into any de­tail,” Ickes said.

Garcetti, who is half­way through his first term as L.A.’s mayor, be­gan fundrais­ing for the 2017 elec­tion in March. He is not yet fac­ing any sig­nif­i­cant chal­lengers. peter.jami­son@latimes.com

Francine Orr Los An­ge­les Times

PROTESTERS

gather out­side Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home re­cently, call­ing on him to hold a public fo­rum to dis­cuss Ezell Ford’s death.

Rick Loomis Los An­ge­les Times

GARCETTI speaks on the Ford case on June 9, the day he re­turned from the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

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