Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and television news reporter Lu Parker, arm-in-arm regulars on the red carpet and at glitzy charity events in recent years, have broken up, a publicist for Parker said Monday.
“I can confirm that Lu Parker ended her three-year committed relationship with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as of May 25,” said Juliette Harris, the owner of It Girl Public Relations, which represents Parker. Harris would not provide the reason for the split.
Villaraigosa was in Colorado on Monday attending the Aspen Ideas Festival and a spokesman had no comment.
A former Miss USA who works for KTLA-TV Channel 5, Parker had rarely been seen with the mayor in recent weeks. She attended Villaraigosa’s State of the City speech on April 20 and posed for photographs with him a week later at BritWeek, an event celebrating California’s ties with Great Britain. But she did not attend a June 6 garden party hosted by Villaraigosa at Getty House, the taxpayer-owned mayor’s mansion in Windsor Square, or ride with him in West Hollywood’s gay pride parade three days later.
Villaraigosa declined to answer The Times’ questions in recent weeks about the status of his relationship with Parker — calling one reporter an “idiot” and another a “bottom-feeder” for asking. He also refused to say whether Parker has moved out of Getty House.
“My personal life isn’t any of your business any more than yours is mine,” he said Wednesday after an appearance at Loyola Marymount University, where he publicly mused about the breakup of his marriage to Corina Villaraigosa five years ago.
The mayor was still married when he began dating Mirthala Salinas, who was then a television news reporter on Telemundo’s Spanish language KVEA-TV Channel 52. His wife, mother to two of his four children, filed for divorce in 2007.
The mayor told the Loyola audience that his handling of the politically damaging breakup was his “biggest regret” as mayor. Villaraigosa and Salinas broke up in late 2007. The mayor, 59, started dating Parker, 44, two years later.
They became a local celebrity couple, appearing courtside at Lakers games and side by side at civic, charity and Hollywood functions. Parker enlisted the mayor’s help with her own philanthropic activities, including the launch of the Lu Parker Project, her charity to help homeless animals and at-risk youths. At one high-profile event, Villaraigosa helped assemble beds for homeless dogs.
Eventually Parker moved into Getty House, registering to vote there in December 2010, according to county election officials.
Parker was a weekend news anchor at KTLA when the couple started dating. After the relationship became public, she was reassigned to special assignments and kept from covering local politics. KTLA News Director Jason Ball would not say whether Parker would go back to anchoring. “Lu’s always been a part of the KTLA family and she continues to be,” Ball said.
The breakup comes as Villaraigosa is entering his final year in office because of term limits. As chairman of this summer’s Democratic National Convention and a surrogate for President Obama’s reelection campaign, he has raised his national profile in recent months with frequent travel and cable news appearances.
Coupled with the mayor’s success in securing passage of a federal bill that may free up billions of dollars for transportation projects in Los Angeles, Villaraigosa is politically “riding kind of high now,” said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at Cal State L.A.