LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted Tuesday he took a campaign-funded trip to Washington, D.C., last week primarily to meet with White House officials about funding for a number of city programs, including efforts to help homeless veterans.
The mayor’s trip June 8-9 occurred on the eve of the Police Commission’s ruling on the fatal officer-involved shooting of Ezell Ford.
He told protesters outside his home early June 8 he was going to Washington to try to get federal funds for community policing and homelessness programs.
Garcetti subsequently had two 30-minute meetings with Obama administration officials, but also attended a reception for his re-election effort hosted by one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent fundraisers, Harold Ickes, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a leader of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, told The Times Garcetti’s attendance at a political fundraiser “absolutely contradicts” the explanation for his Washington trip he gave her and other demonstrators outside his house last week.
During a question-and-answer period on KNX Radio Tuesday morning, Garcetti said, “I could have skipped that fundraiser easily. … I didn’t mind missing that.
“What I did mind missing — when we’re trying to house all of our homeless veterans — was a very strategic moment, when I had a meeting with the head of OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, to be able to make the plea that we think we are about $15 million short to reach that goal.
“And that was a meeting we couldn’t afford to miss,” he said. “I will continue to go to D.C. on that. And as soon as we were asked about any other activities we referred that to the campaign, which said, of course, we did do a fundraiser as well.”
The trip was paid for with campaign funds, Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman told City News Service.
Abdullah said that raising money for Garcetti’s planned re-election campaign speaks to his placement of ambition and ego ahead of the interests of an important portion of his constituency.”
Ickes — a veteran political operative and former top campaign and White House aide to President Bill Clinton — told The Times Garcetti was at his home in Georgetown June 8 for a fundraising event for Garcetti’s 2017 campaign.
Ickes told The Times the reception lasted about two hours and had between 40 and 50 guests, each of them asked to donate $1,400, the maximum individual contribution under Los Angeles’ campaign finance limits.
Bill Carrick, a consultant for Garcetti’s 2017 campaign, acknowledged that Ickes held the fundraiser. Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said this week the campaign paid for the trip and Garcetti would not be commenting further on his time in Washington.
“We’ve said everything we have to say on it,” Millman told The Times.
“We’ve given you the schedule and we said what he did.”
On June 9, 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, Garcetti held a news conference at which he spoke admiringly of Tritobia Ford’s “quest for justice” for her son.