Political Donations Flow to L.A. Elected Officials as Rick Caruso Seeks Approval for 20-Story Tower Near Beverly Center

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Rick J. Caruso overlooks Nordstrom, under construction at The Americana at Brand in Glendale in 2013. (Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

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Real estate developer Rick Caruso has been a reliable benefactor at Los Angeles City Hall, giving donations big and small to the city’s politicians and their pet causes.

Caruso, known for the Grove and other shopping destinations, has donated to all but one of the city’s 17 elected officials. His charitable foundation provided $125,000 to a nonprofit set up by Mayor Eric Garcetti. And his companies recently gave $200,000 to the campaign for Measure M, the sales tax hike Garcetti championed in last month’s election.

Add in money from his employees and his family members, and Caruso-affiliated donors have provided more than $476,000 to the city’s elected officials and their initiatives over the past five years, according to contribution reports.

Now, Caruso wants Garcetti and the council to approve a 20-story residential tower on La Cienega Boulevard, on a site where new buildings are currently limited to a height of 45 feet. Opponents of the project view Caruso’s donations with alarm, saying the steady stream of contributions has undermined their confidence in the city’s planning process.

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