Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a top contender for Transportation Secretary now that current Secretary Ray Lahood is officially stepping down from the Cabinet position, despite the fact that the mayor’s career has been shadowed with one scandal after another.
Villaraigosa is now one of the top choices for Transportation Secretary, because of his work extending rail service in California, pushing a $105 billion transportation bill through Congress.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday that she thinks “he’d be terrific at it.”
“No one has asked my opinion, but I think he would make a very fine secretary of Transportation,” Boxer told the Hill.
The L.A. Mayor first stepped into the national spotlight at the Democratic National Convention in September, where he turned heads after giving a primetime speech on immigration. He followed it up with a major immigration address at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. At the speech Villaraigosa refused to say if he had been approached by the Obama administration for a Cabinet position.
But the real question on reporters’ minds at the speech was about Villaraigosa getting caught partying in Cabo with Charlie Sheen the week before, which turned into a he-said, she-said, between him and Sheen about what happened at the party and why L.A.’s mayor was there.
Villaraigosa’s trouble with the infamous actor recently is one incident among others that may give Americans pause about the possibility of the President putting him in a position of power.
In 2011 Villaraigosa was forced to pay $123,500 in fines for ethics violations after accepting tickets to Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers games, the Oscars, the American Music Awards, the Emmys, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and even the “American Idol” finale the season Kris Allen won.
He has also been accused of nepotism by the Los Angeles Times for appointing close friends and family to high-paying government positions. For example, he hired his daughter Marisela Villar as a field representative, paying her $68,000 of California taxpayers’ dollars.
Villaraigosa has admitted to repeatedly cheating on his ex-wife while she was battling thyroid cancer, who eventually left him after he publicly admitted to an affair with Telemundo news anchor Mirthala Salinas in 2007. After the broke up Villaraigosa started dating another reporter Lu Parker, but the two split over the summer a few months before Villaraigosa’s big speech at the DNC.
Oh, he also pees in public, so says Charlie Sheen, anyway.
Our new Transportation Secretary? At least Obama didn’t tap him for White House Chief of Staff.