Rick Caruso to step down before election

Mayoral candidate and CEO, facing tough race, announces departure internally

Caruso CEO Rick Caruso (Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal with Getty)
Caruso CEO Rick Caruso (Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal with Getty)

Mayoral candidate and Caruso CEO Rick Caruso will step down as the head of his company within weeks, months earlier than previously planned.

In February, when Caruso jolted the crowded L.A. mayoral race by declaring his candidacy, the billionaire developer announced a corporate succession plan in part to preempt conflict of interest questions. Should he win the November general election, Caruso said then, he would put his company in a blind trust and appoint Corinne Verdery, his chief development officer and a highly regarded deputy, as the new CEO.

But a few days ago that plan officially changed: Verdery will now become CEO on Sept. 1, presumably so Caruso can focus full time on campaigning for the remainder of the race.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The boss’s departure date was announced internally on Friday, a company representative confirmed to The Real Deal. The representative declined to add more details about the announcement.

Los Angeles held its mayoral primary on June 7. While early polls projected Caruso as the overall winner, later tallies showed that Caruso’s chief rival, Rep. Karen Bass, was a clear winner, taking 43 percent of the vote to Caruso’s 36percent. Still, Caruso’s strong showing set the stage for what’s likely to be a highly competitive November runoff between the two candidates, who come from wildly different backgrounds. Caruso has reigned atop Southern California’s real estate world for decades, while Bass brings decades of public sector experience.

In her own career, Corinne Verdery, Caruso’s CEO-in-waiting, has earned a reputation as a highly capable executive and project shepherd. She’s also likely to steer Caruso’s company along a similar path, while critics and government watchdogs still have concerns about potential conflicts of interest should Caruso ultimately win.