01/09/2013 02:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Wendy Greuel Accused Of Campaigning On City's Dime

City Controller Wendy Greuel came under fire Tuesday after a review of her office calendar showed she has spent many of her working hours on her campaign for mayor.

The calendars, obtained under a public records request by a community newspaper, reveal a packed schedule of planned coffees, luncheons and meetings with political consultants, union members, community leaders and high-profile groups. They span the period from June 2009 through July 2012.

The first rival mayoral candidate to jump on the new report was Kevin James, who called for a review of Greuel's office conduct.

At a press conference held steps from Greuel's office at City Hall, James noted that in some cases, Greuel's own city staff were used as campaign aides during events.

"She is using her Controller's Office as a front for her mayoral campaign," James told reporters.

Greuel's calendars were published Monday by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper.

Greuel's campaign handlers denied anything inappropriate in the controller's schedule, saying she works long hours and if aides work for her campaign, they are doing so while on their own time.

Campaigning while in office is not unexpected, said Greuel spokesman Dave Jacobson. He pointed to President Barack Obama, who served as commander in chief while simultaneously campaigning for re-election.

As city controller, Greuel earns a salary of $182,200 a year. She champions her office as a place that shines a light on fraud, waste and abuse. Transparency and accountability, Greuel frequently says, are needed at City Hall.

James' attack on Greuel comes eight weeks before the March 5 primary election. As the only one of the four frontrunners who doesn't work in City Hall, James frequently blames Greuel, as well as City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry for the city's fiscal crisis.

City officials and their staff are barred from campaign-related activities during the hours they are receiving pay to engage in city business.

James acknowledged that Greuel's public position requires her to spend time in the community but accused the controller of crossing a line.

"Just looking at the restaurants, the time she spends in restaurants," James said, "it would indicate that she isn't doing the work of the people of the city of Los Angeles and keeping the books of the people of the city of Los Angeles."

Looking to rebuke James' remarks, Greuel spokesman Jacobson showed up at the press conference, handing out a statement that criticized the Republican candidate's comments as a "political smear."

"Wendy Greuel is controller 24-7," Jacobson said, adding Greuel frequently works into the night and in the morning hours.

"She's not confined to a 9-5 workday. She's working in the evenings, in the mornings, on the weekends."

Some of her staff have helped her campaign during daytime hours, but it is considered off-the-clock, Jacobson said.

"If they decide to volunteer on the lunch break, when they aren't on the taxpayer clock, they are entitled to do that."

Bob Stern, the former director of the Center for Governmental Studies who helped develop the city's ethics laws, said the issue of juggling both their primary duties and running for office is an issue elected officials need to deal with.

The biggest problem is when elected officials use their staff to do campaign work, rather than city work.

Getting out and meeting with community members is important, said former controller Laura Chick, who has endorsed Greuel in the mayor's race.

"I wanted to hear what they were concerned with," Chick said, adding that she hadn't read Greuel's calenders to weigh in on how the records compared with her own calender during her tenure as controller.

Both Perry and Garcetti declined to comment on James' allegations.

James said he would be asking the city attorney to look into Greuel's calenders. Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter said no written allegation had been received by his office.

Staff Writer Rick Orlov contributed to this report.

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