Garcetti explains email endorsement mistake

FILE: Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks in downtown Los Angeles.
FILE: Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks in downtown Los Angeles.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expanded Friday on an email gaffe involving his endorsement of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

The Thursday email episode made headlines around the country. Through a city email account, a communications staffer for the mayor sent out an email quoting Garcetti endorsing Clinton for president. Just over an hour later, that email was retracted. 

Even later on Thursday, his campaign confirmed that Garcetti is backing Clinton.

At an event downtown Friday afternoon, Garcetti called the email from his office a mistake.

"The email was rescinded though the endorsement was not, and I’m very proud to have endorsed Hillary Clinton. I think everybody’s pressed a send button by mistake before," he said. 

The email blast turns out to be more than a gaffe: political activity using taxpayer resources is a misuse of city funds.

“It’s definitely inappropriate,” said Bill Carrick, a consultant for Garcetti's 2017 reelection campaign, who echoed the mayor's statements that the emails were mistakes. Carrick said in the past, he's been the one to send out any of Garcetti's endorsement announcements. 

Rick Hasen, University of California, Irvine, law professor, described the email episode as "a clear violation, but also a minor infraction."

"There are many things that are a lot worse than this, and it seemed to be an inadvertent problem that was quickly caught and corrected," Hasen said. "In the scheme of ethical violations and problems, this really seems to be about as minor as it gets."

Hasen said on the grand scale of political corruption, it’s like going 56 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone.

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission said it can’t comment on whether the email flub triggered an investigation. The email could result in a small fine, according to Hasen, but he says it’s less a serious legal problem and more a political embarrassment.