Rick Caruso loans $10M to mayoral campaign

Commercial developer upends mayoral race with ad barrage on TV, radio and social media

Rick Caruso with Los Angeles City Hall (Getty, iStock)
Rick Caruso with Los Angeles City Hall (Getty, iStock)

Los Angeles billionaire developer Rick Caruso has altered the race for City Hall in Los Angeles

The developer shoveled $4 million into his bid this week, bringing the total that he’s loaned his campaign to $10 million, the Los Angeles Times reported. His willingness to tap his fortune has reshaped the mayoral race since he tossed his hat in the ring eight weeks ago.

He’s blanketed the airwaves. Bought 30-second radio spots, sent voters a slew of glossy mailers, and paid for ads on YouTube and other social media.

Other major candidates – Rep. Karen Bass, Councilman Joe Buscaino, Councilman Kevin de León and City Atty. Mike Feuer – haven’t begun to air TV commercials.

“They’re buying name identification,” David Gould, a veteran campaign consultant who served as former Mayor Richard Riordan’s campaign treasurer, said of the Caruso campaign.

There’s no precedent at City Hall for the cash Caruso has rained on his campaign at such an early date. The June 7 primary is nine weeks away; the general election is on Nov. 8.

By the end of the week, Caruso’s campaign will have spent $8.95 million on advertising, according to data from the analytics firm AdImpact. That total includes nearly $7 million in broadcast and cable television ads and more than $1 million in digital advertising.

In 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti spent $10.2 million to win the office in his first campaign.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Caruso’s money allows him to free his schedule when competing candidates must shuttle between fundraising events and work the phones calling donors.

Under the city’s campaign finance laws, candidates for mayor cannot raise more than $1,500 from each donor during each election cycle — first the primary, then the general election. But there’s no limit for how much candidates can contribute to their own campaigns.

Caruso spokesman Peter Ragone portrayed the reliance on personal wealth as a positive. Having politicians who accept donations from special interests has left the city with “historic homelessness, crime and corruption,” he said.

“Rick Caruso rejects the special-interest path,” Ragone told the newspaper. “He will work for $1 a year and his only interest will be the safety and well-being of the citizens of L.A.”

Other candidates have tried to turn his wealth into a political liability.

“Billionaire developer Rick Caruso will significantly outspend the entire field of candidates in his attempt to buy the election — all while campaigning from the comfort of his $100-million yacht in Newport Beach,” Buscaino said.

[Los Angeles Times] – Dana Bartholomew

Read more