Caruso claims Bass hacked campaign email in 'desperate attempt to change the discussion'

Billionaire developer Rick Caruso is accusing U.S. Rep Karen Bass's campaign of hacking into his email, he announced during a press conference Thursday.

Caruso called a press conference on Thursday specifically to call attention to an LA Times article about Bass, which reported that 10 years ago, Bass was awarded a full-tuition scholarship valued at nearly $100,000 from USC’s social work program. 

Prior to the press conference, an automated email was sent from his campaign claiming to be from a whistleblower within his own campaign. The writer claimed that Caruso was a part of various scandals during his time on the USC board and should therefore not be dragging his opponent through the mud over other USC scandals.

Caruso did not provide any specific details to back up his claim that Bass's campaign was behind the alleged hack.

Caruso claims Bass is just trying to divert attention from the detailed LA Times investigation, calling it "a desperate attempt to change the discussion." He even read from the article at the press conference podium.

The implication is the school did it in exchange for favorable legislation, which Bass denies. 

A similar scholarship to former councilman and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' son resulted in the indictment of Ridley-Thomas on corruption charges for allegedly awarding USC lucrative county contracts, and federal investigators are saying Bass’s case may be relevant.

Caruso said that according to the LA Times article, the feds think her role in this may be critical to the Ridley-Thomas prosecution and he feels that Los Angeles cannot wait for someone who’s been distracted by corruption allegations, that it has to elect a mayor ready to address the serious issues that we face homelessness crime affordability from day one.

Marilyn Flynn, the former dean of USC's social work program, was also indicted in the case with Ridley-Thomas.

The prosecutors' filing suggests that by awarding Bass free tuition in 2011, Flynn hoped to obtain the congresswoman's assistance in passing legislation, The Times reported. The court papers indicate that Bass sponsored a bill in Congress that would have expanded USC's and other private universities' access to federal funding for social work, "just as defendant Flynn wanted," according to The Times.

But Bass insisted she sponsored the bill because "it was about childcare social workers, and that's critically needed."

In response to Caruso's claim that Bass's campaign hacked into his email, a spokesperson for Bass's campaign called it "just another lie from Rick Caruso, who has lied about not being a Republican, has lied about being anti-choice and has lied about his failed leadership at USC." 


This comes the same day Bass discussed her newly-released ad "Caruso Cover-Up," highlighting "Caruso's failure to protect survivors in the aftermath of an unprecedented on-campus sexual assault scandal." 

Caruso was serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2018 amid the investigation into a sex scandal involving former university gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall. Caruso promised a "thorough and independent" investigation. University officials have previously acknowledged failing to act on a number of complaints made against Tyndall between 2000 and 2014 but denied a deliberate cover-up. Caruso, named to head the board after the scandal came to light, conceded that the university "fell short by not doing everything it could to protect those who matter to us most - our students."