Caruso promised to show “zero tolerance” on corruption at City Hall, while also attempting to tie Bass to the corruption cases that have ensnared three council members.
“The system quite frankly is corrupt, and with all due respect to my opponent, she’s part of that system,” he said.
Bass disputed that idea, while also promising to create an ethics czar and institute an ethics pledge in her administration. And she argued that Caruso’s business had put him at the heart of that system.
“If you look at the corruption at City Hall, it’s been around developers,” she said.
Caruso quickly shot back: “Name one time that I have been named in any scandal at all in my career in my life.”
—On Caruso’s party affiliation
A question from Los Angeles Times columnist Erika D. Smith about party affiliation spurred a heated exchange, with both Bass and Caruso landing a number of zingers.
Speaking about his past as a Republican, Caruso — who was last registered as a Republican in 2019 — said he “left the Republican Party a long time ago” because it didn’t reflect his values.
Caruso switched his party registration to “decline to state” in 2011 while considering a bid for L.A. mayor. He re-registered as a Republican in March 2016, staying with the GOP until November 2019, when he went back to “no party preference.” Caruso changed his party affiliation to Democratic in late January, less than a month before filing to run for mayor.
“I’ve always been socially liberal,” Caruso said, citing his support for former Gov. Jerry Brown and current Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, and noting that he is “close” to both of them.