L.A. Mayor Carries Plenty of Baggage to Charlotte

• February 16, 2012 5:00 am


Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be named chairman of the Democratic National Convention, according to an email obtained by CNN Wednesday.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told DNC members Tuesday that she plans to nominate Villaraigosa to chair this year’s convention in Charlotte—billed as "The People’s Convention"—where he will oversee the daily program.

Villaraigosa’s history of ethical and moral improprieties is sure to raise questions about the choice.

Villaraigosa was forced to pay over $40,000 in fines in 2011 for failing to disclose free tickets he accepted to Los Angeles Lakers games, the Academy Awards, the American Idol finals, a Spice Girls concert, and over two dozen other events. The California Fair Political Practices Commission recommended the fines following a joint investigation with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. Villaraigosa raised more than $123,000 for his three legal defense funds to pay off his legal fees and fines.

The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2011 that Villaraigosa accepted illegal campaign contributions during his 2009 reelection effort from Alexander Hugh, a real estate developer from the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. Hugh faced nearly $184,000 in fines from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

While prosecutors said they had no evidence to suggest that Villaraigosa knew of Hugh’s illegal contributions, the two have longstanding ties. Hugh accompanied Villaraigosa on a trade mission to Korea in 2006, where the mayor promoted one of Hugh’s Los Angeles development projects. After the project was approved in 2007, Hugh held a fundraiser for Villaraigosa, where he asked 18 donors to contribute a combined $18,000 to the mayor’s re-election campaign and then reimbursed each of them. City law limits mayoral campaign contributions to $1,000 per donor per election cycle.

When a local television station confronted Villaraigosa in January for using more than $480,000 in federal taxpayer stimulus money to maintain and upgrade his million-dollar yacht, Villaraigosa replied, "It’s not a yacht. It’s a boat."

Villaraigosa has two adult daughters born out of wedlock. His first marriage ended because of an affair with a Telemundo reporter who was assigned to cover him. The affair reportedly began as early as November 2005, four months after Villaraigosa was sworn into office.

Published under: Democratic Donors, DNC