Political expert: Buscaino questioning Karen Bass home burglary case 'political in nature'

A Los Angeles City Councilmember is looking for answers about a recent break-in at Congresswoman and LA mayoral candidate Karen Bass' home in which two guns – and nothing else – were stolen, but one expert says the letter and its timing are a political move.

In the letter, dated Sept. 21 on City of Los Angeles letterhead, Councilman Joe Buscaino asked Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore and City Attorney Mike Feuer for answers. "Her home was broken into; her peace of mind was violated. She and the public deserve answers," Buscaino said in the letter.

In the letter, Buscaino asks: 

  • Why were Bass' guns targeted?
  • How were they stored?
  • To whom were they registered and when?

Bass told FOX 11's Elex Michaelson, "They were locked up. They were registered. They were locked in a safe box and they were stashed away in a closet."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'My safety was shattered': Karen Bass discusses 'traumatic' home break-in, her guns being stolen

To follow up FOX 11 made a public records request, asking LAPD for the tapes of the 911 call and the police report. The department denied the request, saying those documents were part of the investigation.

To Buscaino, "This case deserves due diligence because it can be a learning moment in this city about ongoing crime and responsible gun ownership and gun storage."

But, to Loyola Marymount University Political Science Professor Fernando Guerra, "I think the letter is clearly part of the campaign; political in nature."

Guerra says the letter is a legitimate public discussion but, because Buscaino - who ran for mayor before endorsing Bass' opponent Rick Caruso – released the letter just before Bass and Caruso participated in a mayoral debate, it raises questions.

"It's very unusual for a member of the City Council to send a specific request about a specific crime especially not in their district," Guerra said. "That hardly happens so this is unusual. Therefore it is political."

City Attorney Mike Feuer - who endorsed Karen Bass after his own unsuccessful run for Mayor had a "no comment." on the letter. 

Responding to Guerra's assessment that the councilman was playing politics, Buscaino said the letter wasn't a political move.

"This is a response on behalf of the people of Los Angeles," Buscaino said. "There are two outstanding guns taken from a high-profile elected official. It's important that both the Congressmember gets those answers and the public."

Meanwhile, Mark Gonzalez, who chairs the LA County Democratic Party, sent FOX 11 a copy of his request to City Attorney Feuer and Kenneth Hardy that he wants the councilman, his letter and the Rick Caruso campaign investigated. Hardy is the Director of Enforcement of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. In his letter, Gonzalez said, "It is shocking and an illegal abuse of power for a Mayoral candidate and a City Councilmember to conspire to use City resources to prompt a baseless LAPD investigation of a rival candidate." To that request City Attorney Feuer's office also replied "no comment."