SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The leader of the California state Senate says he was singled out for criticism for his $50,000 swearing-in ceremony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles last fall because he is Latino.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon made the comments in an interview published this week in the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, The Sacramento Bee reported.
De Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said there is a media double-standard.
"If a white politician hosts an event in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, it's fine. Nobody says anything," de Leon said. "But if a Latino politician holds an event there, then it's very bad, you have to do it in the neighborhood."
He compared the $50,000 he spent for his January swearing-in event to $80,000 he said was spent by Attorney General Kamala Harris, implying that it was not scrutinized.
"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 Leonn 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."
Harris, who holds the third-ranking constitutional office in the state, has black and Indian ancestry. The Bee previously reported on the cost of her swearing-in celebrations and those of other statewide elected officials.
Donors paid the $50,000 cost of de Leon's ceremony, but records show taxpayers paid more than $25,000 for dozens of staff and security to attend.
De Leon later said in a statement to the newspaper that newsrooms and the media are not diverse, which he said affects their coverage.