LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso today criticized his opponent, Rep. Karen Bass, for backing city attorney hopeful Faisal Gill, who has proposed a 100-day moratorium on some misdemeanor case filings -- but Bass said she's withdrawn her endorsement, and Gill said Caruso is mischaracterizing his proposal.
Caruso, who finished second behind Bass in the June primary election, held a news conference Friday at Grand Central Market downtown with some business owners. He criticized Bass for backing Gill, saying the city attorney candidate's proposed 100-day moratorium on misdemeanor filings would further erode public safety.
He said the proposal comes at a time ``that small businesses like these businesses are experiencing incidents of theft and crime.''
``The men and women of this city that work every day, employ people, have to run a business that's the backbone of our economy, but they have to suffer with break-ins, they have suffer with crime and they have to suffer with homelessness,'' he said.
In calling the news conference, Caruso's campaign contended that Gill's policy would temporarily halt misdemeanor prosecutions for crimes including assault, domestic battery, theft and violations of restraining orders.
Gill's campaign quickly issued a statement accusing Caruso of lying about the proposal, saying he was ``engaging in fear-mongering tactics'' out of desperation after his second-place finish in the primary.
``Rick: you may be filthy rich, but no amount of money can change the truth,'' Gill said in a statement. ``Never did I say I would not prosecute egregious crimes as city attorney. The crimes Caruso lists that I allegedly won't prosecute are entirely fabricated, made up out of whole cloth.''
Gill said he intends to implement mental-health diversions in cases involving minor offenses, such as loitering, drug possession, minors possessing alcohol and failure to appear in court. According to his website, his 100-day pause in filings would not pertain to cases that are ``particularly egregious or time-sensitive.''
Responding to the criticism from Caruso, however, Bass' campaign issued a statement saying she withdrew her support of Gill earlier this week.
``Karen Bass absolutely disagrees with Faisal Gill's proposal for a 100-day moratorium on misdemeanor criminal filings, and in fact, our campaign contacted the Gill campaign and withdrew the endorsement on Wednesday,'' according to the campaign. ``Unlike Rick Caruso, Karen Bass has personally worked in some of L.A.'s toughest neighborhoods against gangs, robberies and other criminal activity.
Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Caruso will square off in a Nov. 8 runoff election. Gill, a civil rights attorney, finished first in the June primary for city attorney and will face off against financial law attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto.