Column: Rick Caruso On Taxes, Just Like Trump?

By Nick Antonicello

In a press conference held Monday in Marina Del Rey, L.A. City Attorney & Mayoral Candidate Mike Feuer slammed Billionaire Developer Rick Caruso’s “Trumpian” style refusal to release his tax returns, but instead a 2-page “memo” that implies he doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes, and registration of his $100 Million yacht, “The Invictus,” under the flag of the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven.

Feuer, the former assembly member, council member and sitting City Attorney has made this unlimited spending spree by Caruso central to his messaging to primary voters to define a clear difference between Feuer’s public service and Caruso’s private wealth.

Feuer is seeking transparency and full financial disclosure and his campaign has compared Caruso’s approach to full disclosure to that of former US President Donald J. Trump, who promised but never disclosed his federal filings in his campaigns with then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 and his reelection defeat to Joe Biden in 2020.

The current spending spree by Caruso has catapulted him to front-runner status as estimates have his current campaign spending at $500,000 a day and at the current pace, roughly $10 million dollars to date.

At this pace Caruso will spend more money on a LA mayoral campaign then any previous candidate in history.

Some say it will be the most spent since the 1993 race that saw Republican businessman Richard Riordan spend some $6 million dollars to succeed Tom Bradley.

Feuer campaign officials accuse Caruso of not disclosing where in the budget he would need to make the cuts to keep his campaign promise of adding 1,500 more cops and 500 sanitation workers, both popular pledges with voters who see Los Angeles these days as unsafe and dirty.

Feuer is expected to spend roughly $2 million dollars on his mayoral campaign and his campaign estimated the other major candidates will spend roughly the same with the feeling US Congresswoman Karen Bass could spend upwards to $4 million dollars. The Feuer effort stated they are unaware of any independent expenditure on behalf of their candidate.

Feuer, in an attempt to break away from the other mayoral hopefuls is shooting up and trying to create this “one on one” debate with Caruso on the issue of campaign spending, if nothing  else.  

“At a recent debate, I challenged my opponents to produce five years of tax returns. I released five years of my returns the next day—more than 100 pages. So what did Rick Caruso do? He produced a self-serving, 2-page memo that implies his tax rate is substantially lower than that of working-class Angelenos. But what we do know is that Caruso has spent six times more on his campaign and T.V. commercials in the last couple of months than he paid in personal income taxes for the last five years,” observed Feuer. 

“Caruso lives in Pacific Palisades, but you won’t find his yacht in L.A.’s Marina del Rey. It’s thousands of miles away, generating income for Caruso outside of U.S. waters, registered under the flag of the Cayman Islands. Why is that? What taxes is Caruso trying to avoid by registering his yacht in the Cayman Islands? Property taxes? Sales Taxes? Employment taxes?,” questioned the mayoral hopeful.

It has also been reported that Caruso’s yacht is now up for sale. 

“A private businessman like Rick Caruso is used to having things his own way and only telling outsiders what he wants them to hear. That’s how he’s run this campaign, too, ducking all but one debate and choosing to rely on air-brushed commercials instead of public engagement.” 

“Voters will recall how Caruso said he’d pay for the massive increase in the City budget his proposals would cost (Caruso is calling for the hiring of 1,500 cops and 500 sanitation workers). He said all that new revenue would come from a growing economy—meaning the taxes you and I pay. But while he’s asking others to pay for more police, is he paying his fair share,” offered the challenger.  

“In typical fashion, Rick Caruso won’t say. Instead, he denigrates public servants and public service. That’s a critical difference between him and me. He went to law school and decided to develop malls. I became a lawyer and dedicated myself to serving others and fighting for the underdog, like vulnerable seniors and kids, victimized consumers, folks seeking their civil rights, and neighborhoods aspiring for safety and a better quality of life.”

The author is covering the local political scene and how it effects Venice. He can be reached at nantoni@mindspring.com .

in Opinion
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