Mayoral candidate Austin Beutner sought Tuesday to put a positive spin on a campaign fundraising effort that fell short of three other top contenders in the mayoral race that is still about 14 months away.
Beutner reported raising about $222,000 in the second half of 2011, while City Councilman Eric Garcetti raised more than $1 million in the last four months of the year. City Controller Wendy Greuel also reported amassing a total campaign war chest of $1.1 million since she entered the race last spring.
Beutner's fundraising effort brought his total haul to $627,446. He has spent a good deal of that money already — $535,879, according to the City Ethics Commission's website.
City Councilwoman Jan Perry has raised a total $827,328, but still has more than $625,500 to spend.
"The very ritual of bragging about money raised by politicians from special interests they are supposed to oversee or regulate is one of the reasons why so little changes in our city," Beutner said. "I'm building a campaign built on ideas — ideas to create jobs, ideas to fix problems and the independence needed to get things done."
Beutner also suffered a setback last week when his two top political strategists parted ways with the campaign over strategic differences. Beutner has described the separation as mutual.
Campaign spokesman Bret VandenBos framed Beutner's fundraising as a success given his lack of a political base on account of never having run for office.
"We are building a foundation for future fundraising and we are building a campaign operation to reach out to voters, all without the usual taxpayer supported staff system career politicians rely on," VandenBos said. "Anyone who knows Austin knows his track record of accomplishment. We will have the resources to get our message out."
Beutner said earlier this month that he would "invest" in his campaign after establishing a base of supporters.
Conservative talk radio host Kevin James trailed the front-runners, raising $154,253 through Dec. 31.
Two other potential candidates, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and real estate developer Rick Caruso, have not ruled out entering the race.
Other candidates that have filed paperwork to raise money for a campaign, but have yet to file fundraising reports, include actor Theodore Crissell, filmmaker Malcolm Mays, Northridge East Neighborhood Councilman YJ Draiman, Jose F. Di Raimondo, Addie Miller, David Saltsburg and Rick S. Young.