When it was her turn to speak, Bass knocked Caruso for having previously said he would prefer an earlier, more middle-of-the-road version of the Democratic Party.
“I like the Democratic Party of 10 years ago and the Democratic Party of today,” she said, characterizing the party of today as more diverse and accepting.
“Doesn’t seem to be accepting me,” Caruso said with a bashful smile, spurring laughter in the room. It was a rare acknowledgement from the candidate of how he has been all but shut out from formal party support during the election.
Bass and Caruso had an interesting back-and-forth over their respective ties to USC.
Bass’ involvement with USC is potentially embarrassing, given that she accepted a $95,000 scholarship to get a master’s degree in social work from Marilyn Flynn, the dean of the school, who this week pleaded guilty in a separate corruption case.
After beginning her tuition-free studies in 2012, Bass advanced legislation that would have resulted in more federal funding for USC and other private universities.
Federal prosecutors indicated that Bass’ scholarship was a “critical” piece of evidence in their criminal allegations against Flynn and City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas. But the U.S. attorney’s office told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that “at this time,” Bass “is not a target or a subject of our office’s investigation.”
Bass got clearance from the Office of Congressional Ethics to take the scholarship for studies that she said benefited her constituents by enhancing her knowledge of child welfare policy.
Caruso has pilloried his opponent in recent weeks over the scholarship.