The LA Times has an interesting story today about Los Angeles Council member Jose Huizar and how some of his financial dealings have come under question by the FBI. Basically, Huizar used his opponent, Rudy Martinez, in seeking out his assistance to have some repairs made to one of the council member’s rental homes and tried to weasel out of paying Martinez. While on its face, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it does raise questions about Huizar’s financial fitness and whether he accepts gifts or other personal favors in exchange for his political influence. The article also mentions that two former Huizar staffers were questioned by the FBI but did not want to be named for fear of retaliation.
Los Angeles City council members earn more than members of congress with a salary of $178,000 per year (members of congress earn $174,000). So it is kind of odd that Huizar would drag out payments to Martinez. The article also reveals that Huizar must have felt comfortable enough with Martinez’s business practices to utilize his services for refinancing his home and repairing his rental property in the district:
“Martinez said two FBI agents met with him in July and asked how he knew Huizar. Martinez said he told them that he had refinanced Huizar’s home in Boyle Heights in 2006 and, about the same time, helped supervise repairs at Huizar’s rental house on La Calandria Way.
“They asked if he ever paid for that work,” Martinez said. “I said no. They asked if I ever sent invoices, and I said yes, I did.”
Martinez said he never took Huizar to court over the unpaid bills and had not spoken to him about them since last March, when the two met at the Coffee Table in Eagle Rock. During that meeting, Huizar indicated that he could not pay right away and would have to make a series of payments on the bills regarding his rental house, Martinez said.
Nothing arrived until last month, said Martinez, who provided The Times with a copy of the check and a letter from Huizar that accompanied it.
Skelton said the councilman’s family sent the check to end a billing dispute and “put it behind them.” Skelton said Martinez has a history of “making stuff up” and noted — as Huizar has in recent campaign appearances — that Martinez has a criminal record.”
What are your thoughts? My sense is that Huizar is in a state of denial of whatever it is the FBI is examining into his affairs. Just recently, Huizar sat for a fluff piece in a local restaurant, and last week, he was late to a city council meeting, which ended up being canceled. It just seems that his message and campaign is in disarray. If this investigation or inquiry is really over the $10,330 in home repairs, it seems that Huizar should have had the resources to settle this bill or that he would have wanted to rid himself of any financial obligation to his current opponent for his seat.