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Villaraigosa Juggles Consulting Work While on the Campaign Trail

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The line under Antonio Villaraigosa’s name on the June 5 ballot will read: “state legislator.” Most often on the campaign circuit, the Los Angeles mayoral candidate is introduced as “former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa” or, occasionally, as the “speaker emeritus.”

But since December when his Assembly career ended--along with a $99,000 annual salary and $121 per diem during the legislative session--Villaraigosa has actually been out of public office.

So how has the candidate helped support his family, including a wife and two children, for the last five months? As a consultant for the California Teachers Assn., the statewide teachers union.

Villaraigosa took the job in the private sector when he failed to land a political appointment to a state commission. Sources say current Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) would not put Villaraigosa on the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that would have maintained his legislative salary, in part because of a falling-out between the two old allies over the transition of the speakership.

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Villaraigosa, instead, took a job with the teachers union. According to the Economic Interest Statement he filed with the city’s Ethics Commission this year, that job is the candidate’s only source of income, aside from his wife’s salary as a public school teacher. The candidate’s campaign declined to disclose his exact salary but--in the broad income categories used on public disclosure forms--the pay is described as falling between $10,001 and $100,000 a year.

John Hein, governmental relations director for the teachers union, said he is thrilled to have Villaraigosa working for the organization--helping to campaign for better funding for the state’s poorest performing schools.

Earlier in his career, Villaraigosa worked as an organizer for the United Teachers-Los Angeles. Hein called the campaign to get more money for the schools at the bottom of the standardized testing heap “our highest priority for the year.”

“I don’t know if we could find anybody better to do this” than Villaraigosa, Hein said. “He has experience with the UTLA and the Los Angeles schools and he has experience with the Legislature,” he said.

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The California Teachers Assn. contributed a total of $300,000 to the state Democratic Party just before the April election. The party, flush with cash from the union and many other sources, waged a massive mail and phone campaign on behalf of Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa said all candidates face the challenge of balancing their jobs with their campaigning. He said he became adept at juggling many responsibilities as Assembly speaker.

“When does Jimmy [Hahn] have time to do his job?” Villaraigosa said of his rival for mayor. “You make time. [Campaigning] is an 18-hour-a-day job, seven days a week. . . . you allocate your day in a way that you try to address all the pressing needs.”

Villaraigosa can still use “state legislator” on the ballot. The city’s election code says that candidates can specify as their occupation any job they held during the prior year.

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Times staff writer Carla Hall contributed to this article.


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