LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Rep. Karen Bass has apologized for remarks she made during Thursday’s Los Angeles mayoral debate accusing her opponent,
developer Rick Caruso, of paying to receive an endorsement from the Avance Democratic Club, a local Latino political group.

“Accountability and transparency starts with me, and when I make a mistake, I own it,” Bass said in a statement to City News Service. “I shouldn’t have said what I said. I sincerely apologize to Avance and its membership.”

Bass made the comment early in the debate — hosted by KNX News at its Miracle Mile studio — when Caruso brought up being endorsed by the group, whose mission is to build Latino political power.

“How much did you pay for it?” Bass asked Caruso.

Caruso responded by accusing Bass of insulting Avance. According to its website, the Avance Democratic Club aims to increase Latino voter registration and civic participation and develop Latino political leaders.

Avance President Nilza Serrano released a statement Friday morning calling Bass’ comments “crass and ignorant” and asking for an apology.

“Her comments are incongruous with the values she claims to espouse, especially since they take aim at a community that is too frequently scapegoated and demonized for political purposes,” Serrano said. “She has shown herself to be one more in a long line of entitled and uninformed politicians who take Latinos for granted.”

Caruso and Serrano addressed Bass’ remarks again at an event on Friday, where Caruso said Bass accused him of trying to “buy the Latino vote,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Latinos make up approximately half
of Los Angeles population.

The Bass campaign reached out to Serrano to apologize before the event, according to a spokesperson for Bass.

Caruso did pay $5,000 to sponsor an event hosted by Avance on Sept. 22, the Times reported.