LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti traded jabs Thursday over Garcetti’s connection to a controversial oil drilling operation at Beverly Hills High School.
“Who is the real Eric Garcetti?” Greuel said at a press conference in Van Nuys. “He has promoted himself as an environmental champion, but he never mentioned his oil interests.”
The Los Angeles city controller was referring to an LA Times article that revealed Garcetti and his family members signed a lease with Venoco Inc. in 1998, which gave the oil company drilling rights to his family-owned Beverly Hills property.
Venoco also operates an oil well at Beverly Hills High School, which has prompted health concerns from environmentalists.
“It’s absolutely unconscionable to me that Eric is allowing children to be in danger by leasing his property to this company,” said Greuel.
Councilman Garcetti responded to Greuel’s attack during a news conference at his Studio City headquarters.
“No oil has ever been extracted (from the property) and none ever will,” he said.
Garcetti continued, “We’re here because (of a) desperate attack from an increasingly desperate Wendy Greuel. Here are the facts: Wendy Greuel took money from Venoco’s lobbyist. Wendy Greuel took $11,000 from oil and gas companies and the Sierra Club endorses me.”
David Haake, the vice chairman of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, stood by Garcetti at the press conference.
“This is a complete non-issue. It has no impact whatsoever on our endorsement. How could it? This is just a mineral lease, which we all have,” said Haake.
Jack Pitney, a political science professor from Claremont McKenna College, said there’s a reason the attacks between Greuel and Garcetti have gotten more personal days before the March 5th primary election.
“The race between Greuel and Garcetti is so heated because they are so similar. When two candidates share a lot on the issues, that’s when they resort to attacks on personal issues, and that’s what we’re seeing in this race,” he said.