LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Things are starting to get ugly in the race for L.A. mayor. Rick Caruso and Karen Bass exchanged sharp criticisms Thursday over a scholarship Bass received to attend USC's School of Social Work.
Caruso attacked Bass after a newspaper report revealed that the nearly-$100,000 scholarship received is "critical" to prosecutors' bribery case against former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Marilyn Flynn, a former dean at USC.
"Prosecutors say she didn't apply, she didn't pay, she did not disclose," Caruso said at a news conference. "She received a free scholarship simply because she was a powerful member of Congress. What we do know is that she did push legislation that benefited the school she got into."
The Los Angeles Times reported that Flynn hoped to obtain Bass's assistance in passing legislation and although she enrolled in 2012, the full value of Bass's scholarship wasn't listed in her annual financial disclosures until 2019.
"This is corruption, this is dishonest, plain and simple," Caruso said. "The people of Los Angeles need and deserve a mayor that they can trust to be singularly focused on the issues that are effecting all of us."
But, in a statement, the U.S. Attorney's office said: "At present, and based on the evidence obtained to date, Rep. Bass is not a target or a subject of our office's investigation."
"Rick Caruso knows that the only reason I studied nights and weekends while doing my job for a social work degree was to become a better advocate for children and families," Bass said. "This case has nothing to do with me other than, in the middle of a political campaign, he is trying to take advantage."
Following the L.A. Times article, Bass's campaign released a campaign ad attacking Caruso for being on the board at USC during the scandal involving Dr. George Tyndall, formerly an on-campus gynecologist at USC.
And in a strange turn of events, reporters who RSVP'd to a Caruso campaign event received an email that appeared to be from a campaign whistleblower.
"So we got hacked, most likely from the Bass campaign," Caruso said. "It's a fake email and we're tracking it down."
No proof has been provided that shows the email came from the Bass campaign, which responded in a statement to ABC7.
"This is 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," the statement said.