Capitol Alert

Kevin de León defends Walt Disney Concert Hall swearing-in, Rod Wright

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, speaks with The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau on March 2, 2015.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, speaks with The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau on March 2, 2015. The Sacramento Bee file

Has state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León been singled out for extra scrutiny because he is Latino?

In an interview published this week with the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión, the Los Angeles Democrat said there is a “double standard in the media.”

“If a white politician hosts an event in the Walt Disney Concert Hall it’s fine, nobody says anything,” de León said, “but if a Latino politician holds an event there, then it’s very bad, you have to do it in the neighborhood.”

His comments jabbed at critics of his lavish swearing-in last October as Senate leader. The $50,000 celebration at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall was paid for by special interest contributions to the Legislature’s Latino Caucus and cost taxpayers an additional $28,000 in travel expenses.

“Yes, we spent $50,000 and there were 3,000 people there, three-fourths of whom were housekeepers, gardeners, students for whom it is very difficult to attend an event at the Walt Disney Concert Hall,” de León said. “Attorney General Kamala Harris, whom I consider a friend, spent $80,000 on her reelection event this year and there were only 800 people there. I was in the first row, I saw it myself.”

In a statement to The Bee on Thursday, de León lamented the “real lack of diversity in American media companies, from Hollywood to our newsrooms.”

“This inevitably affects the choices made in producing coverage and content, and limits the amount of perspectives that can be heard,” de León said. “Facing stubborn and troubling stratifications in our economy and society, we need our institutions to be reflective of our great diversity.”

De León also offered strong support to former Sen. Rod Wright, who resigned last fall, eight months after being found guilty of living outside the district he ran to represent. He told La Opinión that what happened to Wright, a Democrat from Baldwin Hills, “was very unfair, because he has lived his whole life in south Los Angeles and he knows it very well. And what he did all politicians do, from all parties.”

Editor’s note: This post was updated April 30, 2015 at 3:33 p.m. to include de León’s statement.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.